Vince’s View: NFL Conference Championship Predictions

Santa Clara, CA – November 11, 2019 – Levi’s Stadium: Emmanuel Moseley (41) of the San Francisco 49ers during a regular season Monday Night Football game
(Photo by Kohjiro Kinno / ESPN Images)

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Here’s the schedule for the Conference Championship Games in the NFL Playoffs.

With the games and times listed, you’ll find a lot of great and informative notes directly from the NFL Communications office.

My predicted winners are in CAPS and bold..

2018 Season Prediction Record: 167-100 (63%)
2019 Divisional Round Record: 3-1 (75%)
2019 Season Prediction Record: 173-92 (65%)


FOUR TEAMS REMAIN AS NFL’S 100TH SEASON ENTERS

CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND

The final four teams are set and this Sunday will determine the two teams heading to Miami for Super Bowl LIV.

Visitor Home Time Network
AFC Championship Game Tennessee Titans KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 3:05 PM ET CBS
NFC Championship Game Green Bay Packers SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 6:40 PM ET FOX

Championship Sunday begins with the AFC Championship Game, presented by Intuit TurboTax, between the TENNESSEE TITANS (11-7) and the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-4), followed by the NFC Championship Game, presented by Intuit TurboTax, featuring the GREEN BAY PACKERS (14-3) and the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (14-3). For th​e 15th consecutive season, there will be a new Super Bowl champion. ​

Three of the four remaining teams – Green Bay, San Francisco and Tennessee – are making a Championship game appearance after missing the playoffs last season. This marks the sixth time that at least three teams have advanced to the Championship games after failing to make the postseason the previous year since the NFL instituted the 12-team playoff format in 1990 and the second time in the past three seasons. Additionally, San Francisco is the fifth team since 1990 to advance to a Championship Game after winning four-or-fewer games the previous season, and the second in three years, joining Jacksonville in 2017.

In the NFC, this marks the third consecutive year in which the Championship Game features the conference’s top-two seeds. The AFC, meanwhile, sees the No. 6 seed Titans traveling to the No. 2 seed Chiefs. The Titans are the first six seed to reach the Conference Championship since the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers in 2010. The Chiefs join New England (2011-12, 2016-17) as the only teams to host the AFC Championship in consecutive seasons since 2000.

Each game features a quarterback making his first career appearance in a Conference Championship, as both Tennessee’s RYAN TANNEHILL and San Francisco’s JIMMY GAROPPOLO take center stage for the first time on Sunday. Tannehill led the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating in 2019, the fourth-highest single-season mark in NFL history among qualified passers. Garoppolo has compiled a 22-5 record, including postseason, as a starting quarterback in his career.

Both Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES and Green Bay’s AARON RODGERS are making a return to Championship Sunday as starting quarterbacks. After leading the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game last season, Mahomes will become the eighth quarterback to start two Championship games in his first three seasons since 1970. Rodgers, meanwhile, makes his fourth Championship Game appearance, the third-most among active quarterbacks.

Each contest is a rematch of a memorable 2019 regular-season game. In Week 10, Tennessee defeated Kansas City in Nashville, 35-32, as the two teams combined for over 900 yards of total offense. The game featured five lead changes and the Titans overcame a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Chiefs, thanks to Tannehill’s touchdown pass in the final minute and a blocked potential game-tying Kansas City field goal as time expired. In their Week 12 meeting at Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco defeated Green Bay, 37-8, on Sunday Night Football, as the 49ers’ defense held the Packers to their lowest point total of the season.

TENNESSEE TITANS (11-7) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-4) (Sunday, CBS, 3:05 PM ET)      

 ​​​​

  • The Titans and Chiefs meet in the postseason for the fourth time. Kansas City won the first two postseason meetings, with Tennessee winning the most recent matchup, a 22-21 victory in the 2017 Wild Card round at Arrowhead Stadium (January 6, 2018).
  • The Chiefs hold a 29-24 advantage in 53 all-time meetings between the clubs (including the postseason). The teams last played in Week 10 (November 10), with the Titans winning 35-32.
  • The Titans will play in the franchise’s sixth AFL/AFC Championship Game and Sunday’s contest will mark the team’s first AFC Championship Game since 2002 (January 19, 2003, at Oakland).
  • Tennessee can become the third team since 1990 to defeat the top three seeds in its respective conference in a single postseason, joining the 2005 Steelers and 2010 Packers. Both teams went on to win the Super Bowl.
  • MIKE VRABEL is the first Titans head coach to win his first two postseason games since JEFF FISHER in 1999.
  • Tennessee quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL leads the NFL with a 114.8 passer rating, including postseason, and has won each of his first two career postseason starts. He threw the game-winning 23-yard touchdown pass in their Week 10 meeting.
  • Titans running back DERRICK HENRY has rushed for 377 yards in two games this postseason and, including his Week 17 performance, is the first player in NFL history with at least 180 rushing yards in three consecutive games. His 195 rushing yards in the Divisional round were a single-game franchise postseason record.
  • In three career games against Kansas City, including the playoffs, Henry has 402 rushing yards (134 per game) and five rushing touchdowns.
  • In their Divisional win over Baltimore, defensive tackle JURRELL CASEY became the fifth Titans/Oilers player with multiple sacks in a postseason game since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.
  • The Titans had two players selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl: running back DERRICK HENRY and punter BRETT KERN.​
  • Kansas City will play in the team’s sixth AFL/AFC Championship Game and is appearing in the game in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history.
  • ANDY REID makes his seventh Conference Championship appearance as head coach, tied for the third-most by a head coach since 1970.
  • In their Divisional victory over the Texans, Chiefs quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES became the first player in NFL history with at least 300 passing yards (321), five touchdown passes (five) and 50 rushing yards (53) in a single postseason game. Mahomes leads the NFL with 84 touchdown passes since 2018, including postseason.
  • Chiefs running back DAMIEN WILLIAMS had three touchdowns last week, becoming the fourth player since 1950 with multiple postseason games with at least three touchdowns. Williams has eight career postseason touchdowns and seven with Kansas City, the most in franchise history.
  • Tight end TRAVIS KELCE had a career-high three touchdown receptions in the Divisional round, becoming the third tight end in the Super Bowl era with three touchdown receptions in a single postseason game. In the regular season, Kelce led all tight ends with 1,229 receiving yards, becoming the first tight end in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in four consecutive seasons.
  • In their Week 12 meeting, Kansas City wide receiver TYREEK HILL had 11 catches for 157 yards and a touchdown.
  • Last week, Chiefs defensive end FRANK CLARK became the first Chiefs player since 1982 with three sacks in a postseason game.
  • The Chiefs had six players selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl: defensive end FRANK CLARK, return specialist MECOLE HARDMAN, wide receiver TYREEK HILL, defensive tackle CHRIS JONES, tight end TRAVIS KELCE and quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES.

GREEN BAY PACKERS (14-3) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (14-3) (Sunday, FOX, 6:40 PM ET)      

  • The Packers and 49ers meet in the postseason for the eighth time, with Green Bay holding the all-time postseason advantage, 4-3. San Francisco has won the past two meetings, including the most recent, a 23-20 Wild Card round victory in 2013 at Lambeau Field (January 5, 2014).
  • Green Bay holds a 36-31-1 all-time series advantage (including the postseason). The teams last played in Week 12 (November 24), with the 49ers winning 37-8.
  • Green Bay has advanced to its 10th Conference Championship and its first since 2016.
  • Packers head coach MATT LAFLEUR is the first head coach to reach the Conference Championship in his first season since JIM HARBAUGH led San Francisco to the NFC Championship in 2011.
  • The Packers defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 28-23, last week in the Divisional Playoffs. With the victory, Green Bay tied the Dallas Cowboys (35 wins) for the third-most postseason victories in NFL history.
  • Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS threw two touchdown passes without an interception for a 113.7 passer rating in the Divisional round, marking his sixth consecutive postseason game with multiple touchdown passes. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers JOE MONTANA (seven games) and TERRY BRADSHAW (seven), as well as DREW BREES (seven) and JOE FLACCO (eight), have had more consecutive playoff games with at least two touchdown passes in NFL history.
  • In 17 career postseason games, Rodgers has 38 touchdown passes – the fifth-most in NFL history – and a 100 passer rating. He is one of four quarterbacks to appear in at least 10 postseason games and maintain a passer rating of 100 or higher, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers BART STARR (104.8 rating in 10 games) and KURT WARNER (102.8 rating in 13 games), as well as MATT RYAN (100.8 rating in 10 games).
  • Green Bay running back AARON JONES had two rushing touchdowns in the Divisional round and now has 21 touchdowns in 2019, the second-most in a single season in franchise history, including the postseason.
  • Packers wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS recorded a team-high eight receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Seattle, his third-career postseason game with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. Adams has six touchdown receptions in seven career postseason appearances.
  • Linebackers ZA’DARIUS SMITH (13.5 sacks) and PRESTON SMITH (12) were the only pair of teammates in the NFL in 2019 and the first pair of Packers teammates since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, to each record at least 12 sacks in a season. In the Divisional round against Seattle, both linebackers recorded two sacks in the victory.
  • The Packers had two players selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl: tackle DAVID BAKHTIARI and quarterback AARON RODGERS.
  • San Francisco will appear in its 16th Conference Championship and its first since 2013.
  • With a victory, 49ers head coach KYLE SHANAHAN would join Pro Football Hall of Famer BILL WALSH (1981) and GEORGE SEIFERT (1989) as the only head coaches in franchise history to reach the Super Bowl in their first postseason appearance.
  • Last week, San Francisco quarterback JIMMY GAROPPOLO made his first-career postseason start as the 49ers defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional round, 27-10.
  • In a victory over Green Bay in Week 12, Garoppolo passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns without an interception for a career-high 145.8 passer rating (min. 10 attempts).
  • Garoppolo finished the regular season with a career-high 102 passer rating (min. 100 attempts), joining Pro Football Hall of Famers JOE MONTANA and STEVE YOUNG as the only San Francisco quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or higher in a single season since 1950.
  • In the Divisional round, San Francisco out-gained Minnesota on the ground, 186 yards to 21. 49ers running back TEVIN COLEMAN led the team with 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns, marking his second consecutive postseason game with at least 90 scrimmage yards.
  • San Francisco tight end GEORGE KITTLE led all receivers with 129 receiving yards and a touchdown in the 49ers’ regular-season victory over the Packers in Week 12. The third-year tight end has recorded 2,945 career receiving yards and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer MIKE DITKA (2,774) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in his first three seasons in NFL history.
  • The 49ers tallied six sacks in the Divisional round, tied for the second-most in a single postseason game in franchise history.
  • 49ers rookie defensive lineman NICK BOSA recorded two sacks in his postseason debut last week. Bosa will be the sixth top-two draft selection to appear in a Championship Game during his rookie season in the common draft era and the first since REGGIE BUSH in 2006.
  • The 49ers had four players selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl: defensive lineman NICK BOSA, fullback KYLE JUSZCZYK, tight end GEORGE KITTLE and cornerback RICHARD SHERMAN.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS​​

NEW FACES ON CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKENDThe NFL will have a new Super Bowl Champion for a 15th consecutive season as four teams vie to secure their place in Super Bowl LIV. In the AFC Championship Game, presented by Intuit TurboTax, the TENNESSEE TITANS (11-7) take on the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-4), while the GREEN BAY PACKERS (14-3) travel to Levi’s Stadium to take on the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (14-3) in the NFC Championship Game, presented by Intuit TurboTax.

Of the teams appearing on Championship Sunday, three teams – Green Bay, San Francisco and Tennessee – missed the postseason in 2018, marking the sixth time that at least three teams have advanced to the Championship games after failing to make the postseason the previous year since the NFL instituted the 12-team playoff format in 1990 and the second time in the past three seasons.

— CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

 

ON THE ROAD AGAINWith a 28-12 victory over the No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, the TENNESSEE TITANS (11-7) became the sixth No. 6 seed to advance to a Conference Championship since the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format in 1990 and first since the GREEN BAY PACKERS and NEW YORK JETS in 2010.

With a win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday (3:05 PM ET, CBS), Tennessee would join the 2010 GREEN BAY PACKERS and the 2005 PITTSBURGH STEELERS as the only No. 6 seeds to appear in the Super Bowl since 1990 when the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format. Both the Packers and Steelers would go on to win the Super Bowl in those seasons.

The No. 6 seeds to reach the Super Bowl since the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format in 1990:

SEASON TEAM CONFERENCE ADVANCED TO
2010 Green Bay NFC Won Super Bowl XLV
2005 Pittsburgh AFC Won Super Bowl XL
2019 Tennessee AFC ??

Additionally, Tennessee could also join the 2010 Green Bay Packers and 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers as the only teams to defeat each of the top three seeds in their conference in a single postseason since 1990.

— CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

KING HENRY CONTINUES HIS REIGN: Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY rushed for a postseason franchise-record 195 yards in the Titans’ Divisional Playoff win last week. After rushing for 182 yards and a touchdown on Wild Card Weekend against New England, Henry became the first player with at least 180 rushing yards in consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

With at least 150 rushing yards on Sunday, Henry would join Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL DAVIS (1998-99) as the only players with at least 150 rushing yards in three consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

With at least 123 rushing yards on Sunday against Kansas City (3:05 PM ET, CBS), Henry would join Pro Football Hall of Famers JOHN RIGGINS (610 rushing yards in 1982) and TERRELL DAVIS (581 in 1997) as the only players with at least 500 rushing yards in a single postseason in NFL history.

The players with the most rushing yards in a single postseason in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM SEASON RUSHING YARDS
John RigginsHOF Washington 1982 610
Terrell DavisHOF Denver 1997 581
Terrell DavisHOF Denver 1998 468
Marcus AllenHOF LA Raiders 1983 466
Eddie George Tennessee 1999 449
Derrick Henry Tennessee 2019 377*
*Entering Sunday

Henry has 561 rushing yards in four career postseason games. With at least 112 rushing yards on Sunday, he would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL DAVIS (672 yards) for the most rushing yards through a player’s first five career postseason games in NFL history.

Henry led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards in the regular season in 2019. With a win on Sunday, Henry would join Pro Football Hall of Famers TERRELL DAVIS (1998) and EMMITT SMITH (1992-93, 1995), as well as SHAUN ALEXANDER (2005) as the only single-season rushing leaders to reach the Super Bowl in the same season.

The single-season rushing leaders to reach the Super Bowl in the same season:

PLAYER TEAM SEASON RUSHING YARDS SUPER BOWL
Shaun Alexander Seattle 2005 1,880 XL
Terrell DavisHOF Denver 1998 2,008 XXXIII
Emmitt SmithHOF Dallas 1995 1,773 XXX
Emmitt SmithHOF Dallas 1993 1,486 XXVIII
Emmitt SmithHOF Dallas 1992 1,713 XXVII


— CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

 

AFC GOES THROUGH CHIEFS KINGDOMThe KANSAS CITY CHIEFS advanced to their second consecutive AFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history with a 51-31 win over Houston in the Divisional Playoffs. In the victory, Kansas City became the first team to win a game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 20 points in the same game in NFL history.

Kansas City’s comeback in the Divisional Playoffs marked the second comeback of at least 16 points in the postseason this year after the HOUSTON TEXANS erased a 16-point deficit in an overtime win over Buffalo on Wild Card Weekend. This marks the second time in which there have been two comebacks of at least 16 points in a single postseason in NFL history (2002).

Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES led the comeback with 321 passing yards and five touchdowns without an interception for a 134.6 passer rating and added 53 yards on the ground, becoming the first player with at least 300 passing yards, five touchdown passes, and 50 rushing yards in a single postseason game in NFL history.

If Mahomes, who has eight touchdown passes in three career postseason games, has at least three touchdown passes on Sunday against Tennessee (3:05 PM ET, CBS), he would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (11) for the most touchdown passes through a player’s first four career postseason games in NFL history.

The quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes in their first four postseason games in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM TOUCHDOWN PASSES
Kurt WarnerHOF St. Louis Rams 11
Dan MarinoHOF Miami 10
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 10
Alex Smith San Francisco, Kansas City 10
     
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City 8*
*In three games

Additionally, with at least four touchdown passes, Mahomes would become the first player with at least four touchdown passes in consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

Chiefs tight end TRAVIS KELCE recorded postseason career-highs in receptions (10), receiving yards (134) and receiving touchdowns (three) last week, becoming the third tight end with at least three touchdown receptions in a single postseason game in the Super Bowl era.

If Kelce, who has three career postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards, has at least 100 receiving yards against Tennessee (3:05 PM ET, CBS), he would tie for the most such career postseason games by a tight end in NFL history.

The tight ends with the most career postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM GAMES WITH 100+ RECEIVING YARDS
Vernon Davis San Francisco 4
Rob Gronkowski New England 4
Keith Jackson Philadelphia, Miami, Green Bay 4
Dallas Clark Indianapolis 3
Travis Kelce Kansas City 3*
Greg Olsen Chicago, Carolina 3
*Entering Sunday

— CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

 

HUNTING MORE TITLES IN TITLETOWN: The GREEN BAY PACKERS advanced to their first Conference Championship since 2016 with a 28-23 victory over Seattle in the Divisional Playoffs. With the victory, Green Bay tied the DALLAS COWBOYS (35 wins) for the third-most postseason victories in NFL history.

With a win against the 49ers, who rank fifth on the all-time list with 31 postseason wins, on Sunday (6:40 PM ET, FOX), the Packers would tie the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (36 wins) for the second-most postseason victories in NFL history.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM WINS SUPER BOWL WINS
New England 37 6
Pittsburgh 36 6
Dallas 35 5
Green Bay 35 4
San Francisco 31 5

Green Bay head coach MATT LAFLEUR became the first head coach to reach a Conference Championship in his first season since JIM HARBAUGH led San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game in 2011.

With a win on Sunday, LaFleur would become the sixth rookie head coach to appear in the Super Bowl.

The rookie head coaches to appear in the Super Bowl:

HEAD COACH TEAM SEASON RESULT
Don McCafferty Baltimore Colts 1970 W 16-13, Super Bowl V
Red Miller Denver 1977 L 27-10, Super Bowl XII
George Seifert San Francisco 1989 W 55-10, Super Bowl XXIV
Bill Callahan Oakland 2002 L 48-21, Super Bowl XXXVII
Jim Caldwell Indianapolis 2009 L 31-17, Super Bowl XLIV
Matt LaFleur Green Bay 2019 ??

With LaFleur (40 years, 66 days old) and San Francisco head coach KYLE SHANAHAN (40 years, 36 days old), Sunday’s NFC Championship Game will be the first Conference Championship Game featuring two head coaches under the age of 41 since 1970.

Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns without an interception for a 113.7 passer rating last week, marking Rodgers’ sixth consecutive postseason game with at least two touchdown passes.

With at least two touchdown passes on Sunday, Rodgers would tie Pro Football Hall of Famers TERRY BRADSHAW (seven games) and JOE MONTANA (seven), as well as DREW BREES (seven), for the second-longest streak of postseason games with at least two touchdown passes in NFL history. Only JOE FLACCO (eight games) had a longer such streak in league history.

Additionally, with two touchdown passes, Rodgers would tie PEYTON MANNING (40) for the fourth-most career postseason touchdown passes in NFL history.

The players with the most career postseason touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM(S) TOUCHDOWN PASSES
Tom Brady New England 73
Joe MontanaHOF San Francisco, Kansas City 45
Brett FavreHOF Green Bay, Minnesota 44
Peyton Manning Indianapolis, Denver 40
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 38*
*Entering Sunday    

Rodgers, who has 4,700 passing yards in 17 career postseason starts, needs at least 300 passing yards on Sunday to become the sixth player with at least 5,000 career postseason passing yards in NFL history, joining TOM BRADY (11,388), PEYTON MANNING (7,339), Pro Football Hall of Famers BRETT FAVRE (5,855) and JOE MONTANA (5,772), and BEN ROETHLISBERGER (5,256).

— CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS —

 

NEW GOLDEN ERA: With a 27-10 win over Minnesota in the Divisional Playoffs, the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS became the fifth team since 1990 to advance to a Championship Game after winning four-or-fewer games the previous season, and the second team in three years, joining the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS in 2017.

With a victory on Sunday against Green Bay (6:40 PM ET, FOX), San Francisco head coach KYLE SHANAHAN, whose father – MIKE SHANAHAN – won Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII as head coach of the DENVER BRONCOS, would become the first father-son duo to each appear in a Super Bowl as a head coach in NFL history.

In their Divisional Playoff victory, the 49ers defense tallied six team sacks, tied for the second-most in a single postseason game in franchise history.

With at least six sacks on Sunday against Green Bay, the 2019 San Francisco 49ers would join the 1984 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS as the only teams with at least six sacks in two consecutive postseason games in the Super Bowl era.

49ers rookie defensive lineman NICK BOSA recorded two sacks in his postseason debut last week. With at least two sacks on Sunday, Bosa would join LAMARR WOODLEY as the only players with at least two sacks in each of their first two postseason games since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. Bosa would also become the first rookie to accomplish the feat since 1982.


VFLs and Knoxville area players in the conference championship games of the NFL Playoffs
Dustin Colquitt – P – Kansas City (Tennessee)
Emmanuel Moseley – CB – San Francisco (Tennessee)
Jalen Hurd – WR – San Francisco (one-time Vol) *RESERVE/INJURED


Find more of my broadcasting work at VinceSports.net

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