How Will These Titans Be Remembered?

titans-chiefsThey did the unthinkable…again.

After dethroning the mighty Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the American Football Conference (AFC) Wildcard game, the Tennessee Titans took out the league’s best regular season football team when they shocked the Baltimore Ravens 28-12 in the Divisional Playoffs over the weekend.

What’s next?

The AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Titans are one win away from the Super Bowl.

I don’t think many people would have believed this would happen after week six after the Titans were shutout 16-0 by the Denver Broncos to drop to 2-4 on the season.  The Titans have gone 9-3 since then including a 35-32 win over the Chiefs in week 10.

Every year there is usually one team that peaks at the right time and at the moment, that team is the Titans.  Almost every football “expert” picked the Ravens to takeout the Titans.  Much was said and written about how they would be unable to contain Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson.  Now that we are Monday Morning quarterbacking, we can see now that they did a pretty good job with that.

So can the Titans beat the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday or will their Cinderella season turn into a pumpkin at Arrowhead Stadium?

After that Titans finished off the Ravens, I thought that the Titans would do better playing the Chiefs than they would the Texans.  The Titans have exceeded all expectations while the Chiefs are anxious not to let another chance to advance to their first Super Bowl since 1969 to slip away from them.  I think that the pressure is on the Chiefs not to choke.  Last year they lost to the Patriots at home in overtime in the AFC Championship.  In 2017 they were upset by the Titans 22-21 in the wildcard game.  They were beaten by the Pittsburgh Steelers 18-16 at home in the 2016 playoffs.

Another interesting stat….the Titans have beaten the Chiefs in their last four meetings.  Three of the four Titan wins were in Kansas City.

The Titans weren’t supposed to be here.  Kansas City expected to be here.

For the Titans to win yet another unthinkable game, they will need quarterback Ryan Tanneyhill to get it done.  You can expect that the Chiefs will have a scheme to stop Titans’ running back Derrick Henry who has demolished opponents in the playoffs and force Tanneyhill to beat them.

So how will these Titans be remembered?  Will they be the team that got on a roll only to fall in a disappointing loss to Kansas City or will they continue their unbelievable run and represent the AFC in the SuperBowl?

Not that it has anything to do with this year’s team but in their history, the Titans have played in four AFC Championship games in 1978, 1979 (at the Houston Oilers) and 1999, 2002.  They are 1-3 in AFC title games winning in 1999 in their first season in Nashville.

I am hopeful that the Titans will upset the Chiefs to advance to the Super Bowl in Miami but – putting my emotional feelings aside – I fear that the Titans will be remembered in losing to the Chiefs this Sunday.

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Can The Titans Dethrone The Patriots?

NFL: New England Patriots at Tennessee TitansCan they?  Yes they certainly could.

Will they?  It’s hard to say.

New England has won about a million Super Bowls and the Tennessee Titans have a big task ahead to go into New England and try to dispatch of the Patriots this weekend in the American Football Conference (AFC) wildcard playoffs.  The last time the Patriots lost a playoff game at home was to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2012 AFC Championship Game.

So what’s different about this game?  There are a lot of Titan-Patriot connections starting with head coach Mike Vrabel who played for the Patriots.  I don’t know if that makes a difference but there is a lot of familiarity there and how the mind of Bill Bellicheck works.

The Patriots haven’t really been as dominant this year and they have relied a lot on their defense to win.  The Titans need to continue to do what they do best with running the ball with Derrick Henry and setting up the play-action pass that Ryan Tanneyhill has done so well this season.  If the defense can put pressure on Tom Brady, there is a chance to get this one.  Pressure on Brady is the key or else he could feast on the poor pass defense of the Titans.  The Titans are 24th in the league in pass defense.

It’s hard to judge this game.  Yes, the Titans won last week but they basically beat up on the Houston Texans’ JV team to get into the playoffs.

Here is how the teams rank in the NFL Stats:

  • Total Offense:  Titans (12th), Patriots (15th)
  • Passing:  Patriots (8th), Titans (21st)
  • Rushing: Titans (3rd), Patriots (18th)
  • Total Defense:  Patriots (1st), Titans (21st)
  • Against Pass: Patriots (2nd), Titans (24th)

Here’s another wildcard for this wildcard game – the weather.

The forecast currently calls for light rain throughout the day, but then could turn into a heavier snow/rain mix with winds blowing at around 10 to 15 mph. The low is set for 33 degrees.

And do you know what they are calling this weather system?  Weather Storm Henry

The running back Henry comes into the game after rushing for 211 yards on 6.59 yards per carry against the Houston Texans in Week 17. The 2019 NFL rushing champion has been a powerhouse for the Titans, but he has particularly come on strong late. Over his past seven games, Henry has rushed for 959 yards on 6.3 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns. His success against a Patriots defense that has struggled against the run at times during the regular season will be the key if the Titans have a chance to dethrone the mighty Patriots.

 

 

Football Friday

xfl

I Hate To Tell You This But…The XFL May Play Again

1/5/18

The college football semifinal playoff game between Georgia and Oklahoma was a classic.  What a battle between two explosive teams.  Oklahoma jumped out to a 17-point lead in the first half but Georgia came back to win on RB Sony Michel’s 27-yard touchdown run in overtime to propel the Bulldogs to their first national championship game since the early 1980s.  Oh yeah, Alabama beat Clemson to advance as well.  Personally, Alabama should have never been in the playoffs but it is what it is.  The college football national championship will be played on Monday night in Atlanta’s shiny new stadium named after an expensive car.

Did you see that the University of Central Florida finished the season as the only major college to go undefeated? Yep, they finished their perfect season with a win over Auburn.  I read today that UCF is going to have a national championship parade in Disney World.  I know, I had to snicker at that too but, really, shouldn’t UCF had been given a wildcard or something for being undefeated? Yes, I know they play in the American Athletic Conference or something like that but just the fact they went undefeated should have got them somewhere in the playoffs.  It didn’t and – no – they aren’t going to be the official national champions outside of Disney World.  The playoff system won’t be right until they give all the conference winners a chance to play for the national championship.

I don’t know how to pick the Georgia-Alabama game.  I don’t it will be a high-scoring game.  I’m just going to watch the game and not risk jinxing anybody by making a pick.

In other football news:

The Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons rounded out the playoff field for the National Football League (NFL) playoffs this weekend.  Let me just get it off of my chest here – if Derek Henry ever learns to run straight he will be hard stop.  Please!  Pick the hole and run through it!  With that said, I think the Tennessee-Kansas City match up is pretty interesting.  Don’t be surprised if Tennessee wins.  Stranger things have happened.  The Carolina-New Orleans matchup will probably be the best one of the wildcard weekend.  Here’s how I see it going:  Tennessee 21, Kansas City 16; Los Angeles Rams 33, Atlanta 24; Carolina 37, New Orleans 34; Buffalo 20, Jacksonville 17.   Now go place your bets….

There are rumors that the XFL is going to come back.  Lord, I hope not.  You remember that one-year wonder right?  It was put together by WWE’s Vince McMahon.  Who could forget “He Hate Me”?  The league was quite gimmicky.   I used to have a Memphis Maniax jersey.  Dang, I should have kept it.  Don’t hold your breath for the XFL.  Aside from the United States Football League (USFL) – which most think was ruined by our current prez – no other league has been able to survive against the NFL.

Here are some of the best spring football leagues (that actually played):

  1. United States Football League (USFL)
  2. World League of American Football (WLAF)
  3. NFL Europa
  4. XFL

A new indoor football league called the Fan-Controlled Football League (FCFL) – nope I didn’t make this up folks – is planning to kick off this year with eight teams.  This strange league will allow fans to build up something called Ethereum-based FAN tokens and use them to manage the action both on and off the field.  So the games will be controlled by fans sitting in their seats drinking beer and chowing down on their nachos?  Yeah, okay, I think I can watch some grass grow somewhere.

Here are the indoor leagues scheduled to play in 2018 (defending champs):

  • Arena Football League (Philadelphia Soul)
  • Indoor Football League (Arizona Rattlers)
  • Champions Indoor Football (Texas Revolution)
  • China Arena Football League (Beijing Lions)
  • American Arena League (none)
  • National Arena League (Jacksonville Sharks)

Mater Dei of Santa Ana, California are the USA Today National High School Football champions.  They finished at #1 in the USA Today Super 25 poll with a record of 15-0.  Yeah, doesn’t excite me that much either.  Well, here’s the rest of the top ten in the final poll:

  • IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
  • St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, MD)
  • St. John Bosco (Bellflower, CA)
  • Allen (Allen, TX)
  • Ben Davis (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Pickerington Central (Pickerington, OH)
  • Cypress-Fairbanks (Cypress, TX)
  • Pine-Richard (Gibsonia, PA)

The Rome Wolves (Rome, GA) finished #16 as the highest-ranked Georgia team but I really still can’t talk about it.  Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, TN) over here in my backyard finished #22.

The Jerusalem “Big Blue” Lions shutout Beersheva 45-0 in the Israel Football League (IFL) to remain the only undefeated team at 8-0.  Jerusalem QB David Abell completed 19 of 30 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Lions.

In the American Football League of China, the Shanghai Titans and Shanghai Warriors will meet in the championship game.  Both teams will be looking to become the first team in league history to win two championships.  The Titans defeated the Shanghai Nighthawks 27-14 in their semifinal game as Titans’ receiver Jibril Rasheed scored on a 19-yard touchdown in the third quarter to put the Titans up 27-14.  The game was called early in the fourth quarter due to a fight which broke out resulting in multiple player ejections.  The Warriors defeated the Chengdu Pandaman 26-8.  A four-yard touchdown run by Chris Gardner midway through the third quarter gave the Warriors a 20-0 lead to pull away from the Pandaman. (I’m not making this up)

The Seoul Vikings scored the winning touchdown with nine seconds left to defeat the Goeje Bluestorm to win their fifth Korean National Football League title.

 

 

Football Friday (12/29/17)

fromm

Can Georgia Freshman QB Jake Fromm lead the Bulldogs to Rose Bowl Win?

With the Georgia High School football season done, I’m a bit lost without a weekly blog about football so I am going to try with a new weekly blog about the world of American football from the National Football League (NFL), Arena Football League (AFL), semi-pro football and American football news around the world.  This format could change but let’s get started with the inaugural edition of Football Friday.

 

National Football League (NFL) – It’s the final week of the regular season.  Most playoff spots have been filled except for the last two in each conference.  It’s easy right?  All the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans have to do this week is win and their in.  Not so fast my friends.  The Falcons play Carolina who would like nothing better than to send the Falcons home.  Honestly, I have cooled off on the Falcons since the Super Bowl so I don’t have much faith in them doing anything with the final playoff berth but I don’t want to see Seattle get it either.  I’m going to say that the Falcons lose to Carolina and still get in.  The Tennessee Titans have stunk the last few weeks and now they limp into the final regular season game against the Jacksonville Jaguars to play a team they beat soundly earlier.  I really don’t think Tennessee is good enough to be in the playoffs.  I think they will complete their late season spiral and Buffalo will get in. Will the Cleveland Browns win their first game and avoid going 0-16? No. Even with several Steeler stars resting, the Browns won’t win against the subs.

College Football Playoffs – The college football bowl season will have a full slate of games this weekend. Of course, the biggest games will be the semifinal games in the Rose Bowl where Georgia will play Oklahoma. The Sugar Bowl will be the semifinal game for Alabama and Clemson. Both games should be pretty close. Georgia is the newcomer to the big stage but the Bulldogs have responded in big games even with their freshman Quarterback Jake Fromm. Oklahoma counters with Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks don’t normally play well in the big game. I’m looking for Georgia to pull out a close win. Alabama is seeking revenge for last years loss to Clemson in the National Championship game. Nick Sabban usually gets it done so I am expecting Alabama to take down Clemson to set up an all-SEC final.

Arena Football League (AFL) – Yes, they are still alive and planning to play in 2018 in spite of losing the Tampa Bay Storm.  Honestly, when we lived in Tampa for two years I didn’t hear much about the Storm so maybe this isn’t such a shock.  Tampa Bay issued a statement that they would sit out the 2018 season which could mean they might join another league but, honestly, the state of arena/indoor football is very weak.  There is no stability in any league at the moment.  With the departure of the Storm, the AFL is down to four teams with Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and Albany.

Israel Football League (IFL) – The Jerusalem Lions (4-0) are the only undefeated team in the league.  In their last game, the Lions handed the Judean Rebels (3-1) their first loss of the season 44-32 in the Chanukah Bowl. The Chanukah Bowl is the IFL’s annual rivalry football.

National Arena League (NAL) – The Maine Mammoths will be a new expansion team playing in Portland, Maine in the 2018 season. The Mammoths will join Columbus (GA), Jacksonville (FL), Lehigh Valley (PA), Worcester (MA) and Greensboro (NC) in the league which begins play in April.

Semi Pro Football – Here is the final Top Ten poll of the Semi Pro Rankings for 2017 (from National Football Events):

  1. Taunton (MA) Gladiators
  2. Albany (NY) Metro Mallers
  3. Oklahoma Thunder
  4. Middle Tennessee Bulldogs
  5. Inglewood (CA) Blackhawks
  6. Detroit (MI) Ravens
  7. Long Island (NY) Panthers
  8. Chi City (IL) Ducks
  9. Virginia Crusaders
  10. Columbus (OH) Fire

Friday Flashback:  First NFL Wildcard Game


As the National Football League (NFL) heads into the first weekend of the wildcard round of playoff games, today’s flashback goes back to the very first wildcard playoff game.  Prior to 1978, the NFL had one wildcard that joined the other three division winners in the divisional playoff round but in 1978 the NFL added an additional wildcard qualifier in each conference which created a week where the two wildcard teams played to join the other division winners the following week.

The Atlanta Falcons hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on December 24, 1978 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.  The Falcons were in the playoffs for the first time in team history while the Eagles qualified for the first time since 1960.  The Falcons won the game by overcoming a 13-0 deficit by scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the game.  The Eagles had a chance to win the game when quarterback Tom Jaworski completed four passes to get the Eagles to the Atlanta 16 with 13 seconds left.  Philadelphia’s kicking problems came back to haunt them as their punter, Mike Michel, had filled in late in the season.  Michel missed a 33-yard field goal, then the Falcons ran out the clock to win 14-13.

Atlanta quarterback, Steve Bartkowski was 18 for 32 pass attempts for 243, two touchdowns and two interceptions.  The leading receiving, and perhaps the reason the Falcons won the game, was Wallace Francis who caught six passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.  

The Falcons advanced to play the Dallas Cowboys the following week in the National Football Conference (NFC) Divisional playoffs and fell short, 27-20.

In 1990, the NFL added another team from each conference which created two wildcard games and the format that exists today.  There has been a proposal to expand the playoffs again from the current 12 to 14 teams with only the top team in each conference receiving a bye in the first round.  

Personally, I have been in favor of totally scrapping the divisional alignments and simply grouping teams in 16-team conferences with the top eight teams in each qualifying for the playoffs.  This would eliminate a team with an 8-8 record of less from either qualifying or winning a division when they are clearly not the best team in the conference.  

Whether or not wildcard games are a good idea, I was not against it in 1978.