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Conference Championship Open Game Discussion

George Kittle
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Here's the open thread for discussion during today's conference championship games. We start with Tennessee at Kansas City at 3:05pm Eastern, then follow that up with Green Bay at San Francisco at 6:40pm Eastern. Let's figure out who's playing in Super Bowl LIV, shall we?

Comments

135 comments, Last at 20 Jan 2020, 1:03pm

3 I was about to say it might…

I was about to say it might be chiming midnight on Tannehill's fairytale season, but it looks like that pick will be overturned.

If Tannehill wins the Super Bowl, will the Jets fire Gase? Probably not I suppose, but they should. Of course, they should regardless. And they are the Jets.

4 Titans now up 10-0 after…

Titans now up 10-0 after Henry takes the direct snap. KC meanwhile has zero yards of offense. But of course we know this means nothing, comsidering what happened last week..

11 No slingshots

Titans not letting the Chiefs build up a quick massive deficit, thereby avoiding the gravity slingshot effect that destroyed the Texans last week.

12 Titans

Every expert wants to see chiefs vs 49ers in super bowl but I like this titans team

14 Preferred matchup

In reply to by kevschwarz

The Titans are a compelling team and have good SB story lines, even if the experts think the over/under on a KC-SF matchup would be around 100.

The only frustrating SB matchup would be KC-GB, just because of the free advertising for State Farm.

16 I couldn't really object to…

I couldn't really object to any of the 4 teams.

I think every impartial fan would enjoy seeing Reid/Mahomes in a Super Bowl. But if the Titans get there it will have been one of the great playoff runs. 

The 49ers are just a good team, no issues there. Green Bay are the least interesting team to me, but I'm not going to complain about watching Aaron Rodgers in another Super Bowl. 

17 No, Titans/49ers would end…

In reply to by miqewalsh

No, Titans/49ers would end up being boring.  The 49ers have 4 first round picks on their 3 man-line; I'm thinking they end the Henry train turn Tannehill into last week's Cousins.  The Titans have an ok defense, but their real defense is ball control.  They've only stopped KC on one drive so far, and that was with a 3rd down drop.

20 After that touchdown, I have…

After that touchdown, I have to think Mahommes vs 49ers defense or Mahommes vs Rodgers would be massively entertaining. I love Jamal Adams, but godamn the Jets for passing on Patrick.

24 That is true, but McCown may…

That is true, but McCown may have started most of Mahommes' first year, and it's quite possible Bowles does not get fired.  A key would be whether Bowles hangs on to John Morton or not.  I really wish he had.  Still, Mahommes under Bowles or Gase is worse than Mahommes under Reid, but probably better than Darnold under Bowles and Gase.

27 ...and don't forget a) the…

...and don't forget a) the difference in the offensive lines b) the difference in the receivers and c) the difference in team speed in the supporting running game... better than Darnold doesn't necessarily mean better outcomes for the 2017-19 Jets...

28 And without Kelce, Hill, etc…

And without Kelce, Hill, etc.

I also think Darnold would be pretty dang good if and when he were ever able to join a real team.

No player is fixing the Jets as long as the current coaching and front office are running the show.

29 As a Jets fan I'm required…

As a Jets fan I'm required to disagree with the complete pessimism.  I don't think the current front office needs to be changed, and since you have almost nothing to judge it on (they hired Douglas after the draft and free agency), there's no reason to think either way about the front office.  The head coach, yeah, well, I'm assuming next year's trainwreck (they have a brutal schedule) leads to Gregg Williams taking over, with Joe Bob Cooter taking over the offense.  I dislike Williams, but he did a good job last year and as the interim coach with the Browns.

As far as Darnold, he has talent.  But how many quarterbacks have become stars after starting their careers with two straight years under replacement level?  Alex Smith comes to mind, and KC needed to replace him to be in the situation they are in now.  Perhaps Darnold ends up like Plunkett, but honestly, Bowles, Gase and MacCagnan may already have ruined him.  If the Jets draft Tua I won't be getting mad about it.

34 That's fair! I'm skeptical…

That's fair! I'm skeptical of Williams as a head coach because his Bills teams were pretty bad way back when, but that was a long time ago, he may have learned some things; that half-season with Cleveland was definitely promising.

One QB who turned out pretty well to say the least, after a sub-replacement-level start, was Steve Young. But of course he had to/got to sit behind Joe Montana for a long time before retaking the reins. That might be the key: go to a team with the time, patience, and skill to re-train him. There are a few teams out there that are (or should be) looking for a medium-term heir apparent, namely the Packers, Falcons, and Steelers, those might be good situations for him. The Lions might also be in that boat, but they're probably, ah, less good.

45 Plunkett's career arc is…

Plunkett's career arc is similar to Young's: failure as a top pick in a poor organization, eventually end up with a smart team in the Raiders.  But as a Jets fan, not a Darnold fan, I'm not rooting for him to succeed in Green Bay, Atlanta, or especially Pittsburgh.

23 Mahomes/Chiefs vs 49ers…

Mahomes/Chiefs vs 49ers defense would be very entertaining and watching the 49ers O vs the Chiefs too. I'm having a hard time believing the Packers will beat the 49ers. I think it will be closer this time, but the Packers have probably gone as far as they can unless Rodgers can rediscover his early decade form. 

30 I'd have thought holding the…

I'd have thought holding the Chiefs scoreless in a second-half quarter would bode well for the Titans. But a KC TD here might be the dagger. They couldn't move the ball at all against the Chiefs' D, and I have a hard time seeing them make up 11 points in less than 15 minutes without a few crazy lucky plays.

And there it is...

37 Good on Tennessee, but how…

Good on Tennessee, but how did KC not smell that fake coming 100 miles away?

I was going to say it's over, but Tannehill has suddenly morphed into Mahomes, so maybe not. Maybe Mahomes decided to secretly play QB for both teams to keep it interesting, like a chess grandmaster playing themselves.

43 The game-clinching pass…

The game-clinching pass interference was garbage, especially considering the "But he wasn't playing the baaaaallllll" excuse becomes impossible to swallow in a case where a defender literally turns around and bats the pass away.

49 I too tend to be annoyed by…

I too tend to be annoyed by the those PI calls on underthrown balls, but as far as those calls go, this one was pretty reasonable. The ball was definitely catchable, and the defender turned only after the interference occurred.

98 The call was correct under…

The call was correct under the current rule.  The problem is the rule, in my opinion.  Run as fast as you can and then if you're covered stop so that the DB runs into you shouldn't give you a penalty, as far as I'm concerned. 

If the QB can't get the ball over the defender, I don't like the defender getting penalized for covering their man.

47 Anyone else catch the…

Anyone else catch the Canadian flag being proudly held by some fan(s) behind the goalposts for that first XP?

48 The Packers lost when they…

The Packers lost when they punted there. The whole point of getting rid of McCarthy is to go for it there. Cripes.

"Make Jimmy G play quarterback" is a reasonable strategy so long as you, you know, make him play QB. Raheem Mostert isn't chopped liver, but if you're getting shredded by him, you deserve to lose.

52 Packers are falling apart…

Packers are falling apart again. I did appreciate Aikman's analysis on that sack. Packers were fortunate to recover that fumble. 

53 That Saints upset really…

That Saints upset really ruined the NFC playoffs. We've barely had an interesting game on the NFC side of the bracket since that game. Packers-Seahawks was okay but that's about it.

54 Yep.  At least the Super…

Yep.  At least the Super Bowl will be interesting, even if the Niners start off like this against the Chiefs.  The Niners' faithful would still have to freak out about Mahommes going off on them.

My take: the Packers need to build up their defense, get corners they can trust so Pettine can play more man like he wants to.

57 And now an inopportune…

And now an inopportune fumble when the game was threatening to become slightly interesting.

60 I wonder if our Packers…

I wonder if our Packers supporting friend will be complaining about DVOA disrespecting his team tomorrow?

61 Okay, they got a stop and…

Okay, they got a stop and there's still two minutes left. If the Packers can manage a quick TD drive here the game will still be a bit interesting.

... I think I'm at the bargaining stage of denial right now.

63 good night

This is the least competitive playoff game of the first ten.

71 I disagree, this looks…

I disagree, this looks considerably different to me. I guess you could argue that the shanked punt was a fluke play, but for the most part this evening's lead has been built on "normal" plays where the 49ers have simply consistently been better.

Houston built much of their lead on a blocked punt TD and a muffed punt, not by shoving the ball down their opponents throats on play after play. And GB losing at the line against the run is in character with their performance over the course of the season (30th in adjusted line yards).

Additionally, the early "stops" by Houston were largely thanks to unforced errors (drops). It seems to me that SF is largely earning their stops. There have been a couple unforced errors on offense by GB, but again, the SF defense being terrific matches the season-long trend, unlike Houston's.

Finally, KC actually made it a competitive game in the second quarter -- in fact, they had the lead at halftime. Green Bay... did not do that.

75 Absolutely. I think even if…

Absolutely. I think even if you reversed all the Packers' big mistakes - give them back the turnovers, un-shank that punt and un-muff that KO, heck even let King catch that INT - that only makes the game 'competitive', since they're totally unable to stop the Niners on D.

112 hardly

It's only comparable if you erase the Chiefs comeback completely.

Which happened in the 2nd quarter.  

68 The last time I saw a…

The last time I saw a defense play this poorly, they were wearing Lions jerseys

69 Mostert has 160 rushing…

Mostert has 160 rushing yards at the moment, which is 46 more than Garoppolo and Rodgers have combined passing. The rushing record for a single game in the playoffs is 248 yards, set by Eric Dickerson. I think the only interest remaining in this game is whether Mostert can break that record in the second half.

72 Yes, it seems possible since…

Yes, it seems possible since the 49ers should be running a ton with this big of a lead. He also already has three rushing TDs. Only two players have had more than that in a playoff game and the record is 5. I think I'm talking myself into believing we could see history in this second half despite it being an awful blowout.

74 Assuming the score remains…

Assuming the score remains fairly out-of-hand, I'm wondering whether Coleman's injury makes it more or less likely that Mostert continues to get most of the carries in this game. Jeff Wilson is inactive, so he's not an option, but I wonder if Breida sees more work in the second half.

76 Well, that went better.

Well, that went better.

I will say, aside from the mistakes (you know, besides those), the Packers have actually been able to move the ball better than I was expecting they would. Time of possession was almost even in the 1st half. In particular, the Niners' pass rush has been mostly mitigated; the first sack was basically Rodgers rolling into Bosa, whom Bakhtiari had taken care of as well as could reasonably be expected, and the strip was a CB blitz. If that holds up and they can avoid the turnovers, they could put some points on the board. Whether they can put up 27 in the time remaining, I doubt it, and that's assuming the defense figures out how to stop anything at all (early results are not promising). But maybe the game could become kind of interesting-ish, hopefully.

79 Interested in hearing…

Interested in hearing Michael Irvin’s thoughts on Troy’s remark that he won 3 Super Bowls with running & defense.

90 The Niners have only 6 pass…

The Niners have only 6 pass attempts through the first three quarters.  That's tied for the fewest pass attempts by any playoff team after three quarters (with the 1973 Miami Dolphins).

Edit: Actually I think I've not done the search correctly and there isn't a way to do a search for fewest passes through three quarters in a playoff game.  But in any game, 6 pass attempts through 3 quarters is ridiculously low (although they've now added a 7th pass attempt.)

114 The Niners will ended the…

The Niners ended the game with 8 pass attempts; every other team with 8 or fewer pass attempts in a playoff game was an early 70's Miami team quarterbacked by Bob Griese (there are three such games, the Dolphins won all of them).

83 I am a little shocked by how…

I am a little shocked by how bad the Packers run defense has been, because although they've been pretty bad this year, they were somehow able to bear down and stop the best rushers they faced (Elliott, Dalvin Cook twice). I'm guessing that's because they game-planned to stop them, while they were focused on stopping Kittle here (did he even have a catch in the 1st half?). So they could and probably will adjust (although that Niners drive does not provide evidence of such), but if that frees up Kittle and the Niners pass offense, that's not really a net gain.

108 They stopped Dalvin Cook…

They stopped Dalvin Cook once. He didn't play the game in Minnesota. Neither did the Vikings #2 RB. The Packers run defense was much better in the first half of the season than it was during the second half. 

85 Scat: (n) 1. Fetish based on…

Scat: (n)
1. Fetish based on excreting on another person for the purpose of sexual gratification.
2. Green Bay run defense

106 I believe Ella Fitzgerald…

I believe Ella Fitzgerald was known as the “Queen of Scat,” which hasn’t aged well. The NY Times crossword usually refers to something you’d yell at a dog or cat. Versatile word.

97 Won't make any difference,…

Won't make any difference, but baffling decision not to go for that 4th & 1 given the 49ers total domination on the ground.

100 Just had kind of a goofy…

Just had kind of a goofy idea for how to fix onside kicks. Team must declare onside kick before they do it. Then, they can position the other 10 guys anywhere they want, at least 10 yards down the field (i.e., among the receiving team's 11). Kicker then kicks it up in the air, 500 style. Whichever team comes up with it gets it at the kickoff line (so own 35 for the kicking team, opponent's 35 for the receiving team).

It'd at least be more fun than the current system, which amounts to a boring squib kick I think literally 99% of the time.

101 Well, it's down to a two…

Well, it's down to a two touchdown margin. If the Packers had just played a little less terribly in the first half this could've been a much more interesting second half. As it is I think it's still too little, too late.

107 Surrendering these passing…

Surrendering these passing yards is inconsequential to this game, but would be concerning as a 49ers fan in light of facing Mahomes in 2 weeks time.

111 I do wonder what win…

I do wonder what win probability says about the Niners decision to kick the FG or go for it. I guess since the first wouldn't totally ice it in and of itself, making it 3 scores is probably the right call. But it struck me that gaining 3 yards is reasonably likely against this defense, and that it was already 2 scores - maybe they should go for the killshot instead of letting them bleed out, so to speak.

113 I guess if you're gonna make…

I guess if you're gonna make up 3 scores in less than 2 minutes you have to make that throw, even if the guy isn't really open.

Congrats to the Niners. I was pretty skeptical of the Shanahan-Lynch alliance as recently as August, and I was totally wrong. They're the best overall team in the NFL by my reckoning, and their foundation looks to be strong for years to come.

125 If you’d told me in August…

If you’d told me in August the 49ers would be NFC champions I could have bought it, envisioning Garoppolo emerging as a true top-tier QB. The fact they’ve done it with him mostly a passenger is very unexpected. 

121 More to say in audibles, but…

More to say in audibles, but to state the obvious, K.C. is a one man band, and Aaron Rodgers has inexiplicably driven over a cliff.

124 Feels a little harsh…

Feels a little harsh labelling KC a one-man band. Mahomes is incredible for sure, but its not a Russell Wilson situation where he’s covering for lame play-calling and a mediocre supporting cast. Even his defense has improved this year. 

Reid and Shanahan calling plays in a Super Bowl should be fun. 

126  Bit of an overstatement,…

 Bit of an overstatement, but that K.C. defense has the collective I.Q. of 53 sets of shoulder pads, and that fake punt defense may have been the worst special teams play I've ever seen.

122 The Niners play the way…

The Niners play the way Zimmer wants the Vikings to play. They're only about 5 or 6 linemen short.

133 The platonic ideal of the…

The platonic ideal of the Vikings, 49ers, and Titans is identical.

The Vikings and Titans have better QBs and RB1s than the 49ers. The 49ers are better everywhere else.

(I would also toss Minnesota WRs and argue the secondaries are comparable)

134 If your plan is to win games…

If your plan is to win games by dominating the line if scrimmage, it's advisable to have big people who are capable of that task. The Niners might be the case study for how tanking in the NFL might be a tenable strategy. The Vikings, due to Bridgewater's inexplicable exploding knee, used up so much draft value and cap space to get the qb issue settled that it kind of hamstrung them elsewhere. Tossing away a 1st round pick on wr Laquan Treadwell didn't help. Unless the guy just took over games in college, like Randy Moss or Calvin Johnson, I really dislike 1st round picks used on that position.

135 The Lions had the misfortune…

The Lions had the misfortune to have a ton of high-1st round draft picks on the roster just as the NFL changed the rules and made them cheap instead of expensive. The roster still has not recovered from that, and it has essentially wasted Stafford's entire career.

128 Seems like Green Bay's…

Seems like Green Bay's strategy was to focus on taking Kittle out of the game, at the expense of stopping the run. I think that's a reasonable idea, but at some point, you have to realize it's not working, and make an adjustment. You can't just allow Mostert to rip off big chunks of yardage, over and over, the entire game.

129 it will be interesting to see

if the Packers ever went to a base defense with 3 LBs. I assume they weren't in dime that much. I think the 49ers just countered with an extra TE instead of Sanders.