Andy Reid needs to beat the Titans for his legacy

Kansas City Chiefs, NFL Playoffs, Tennessee Titans

There are no excuses on Sunday. Andy Reid has to beat his perpetual nemesis in the Tennessee Titans at home in the AFC Championship for his legacy’s sake.

For the last 21 seasons, Andy Reid has been an offensive institution at head coach for two of the proudest franchises in football.

The former Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach under Mike Holmgren has won 207 regular-season games and 13 in the postseason as the longtime head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2012 and with the Kansas City Chiefs since 2013.

Reid has led his teams to the NFL playoffs 15 times, to division titles 10 times, to conference championship games seven times and to the Super Bowl once back in 2004. Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead will be Reid’s seventh conference championship appearance to date, looking to join a rare group of coaches to take teams from both conferences to the Super Bowl.

Can he do it?

While Reid is facing his perpetual football nemesis in the Tennessee Titans on Sunday — a team he is 1-8 all time against over his 21-year career as a coach — he has the superior roster and home-field advantage to get the job done. He must win, or else.

Or else what? It’s not like Chiefs Kingdom will want to fire its beloved head coach if he can’t take this team to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs’ roster is stacked with superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes only in year three out of Texas Tech. Kansas City should win the AFC West for the fifth year in a row next season. Do you really trust the other teams in the division? Me neither.

If Reid does not beat the Titans at home on Sunday as a massive favorite, this is his legacy: He will be Mike D’Antoni and 21st Century Marty Schottenheimer. You can win a boatload of games with them as head coach, but when you’re asked to win the games that matter most, you come up short.

No, it should not matter that Reid is 1-5 in his previous six conference championship games. No, it should not matter that he is 1-8 all time vs. the Titans. He needs to buck these trends and rise to the occasion for once.

This is a Titans team that defeated the three other AFC Division winners in succession to get here. They beat the division-rival Houston Texans in Week 17 to earn the No. 6 seed. Tennessee then upset the No. 3-seeded New England Patriots in the AFC Wild Card round and then shocked the No. 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional round. The Titans are ready.

The last time Kansas City lost this season, it was to these same Titans by a field goal in Nashville. Kansas City fell to 6-4 on the year and people had their doubts if this team could even win the division. Tennessee was still in the early stages of finding itself offensively with Ryan Tannehill taking over for Marcus Mariota at quarterback in mid-October.

Now, these teams meet again.

Tennessee is playing with incredible momentum, getting herculean efforts from its bell-cow back Derrick Henry every week. If the Chiefs want to get to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1969, Reid needs to prove he’s a Hall-of-Fame coach and win.

The Andy Reid School of Clock Management needs to still be on winter break this Sunday. He can’t afford a predictable mental lapse with his timeouts or his typical laissez-faire nature in telling time on the field. Every. Single. Second. Counts. Reid isn’t going up against a schlub of a head coach who will hand him the game’s momentum on a silver platter with a failed fake punt attempt.

Reid will be looking across the gridiron at one of the most promising coaches in the game today in Mike Vrabel. In his second season, Vrabel has split with Houston, defeated Bill Belichick in a game of psychic chess and brought to an end the Holy Greg Roman Empire that was the plus-one offense. Next up for him is handing Reid and his wunderkind quarterback a second loss this year.

The past may be the best indicator of future performance. Though Reid’s reputation in conference championship games and when he plays the Titans proceed him for all the wrong reasons, he has the team, the quarterback and the crowd behind him to lay to rest these two perpetual nightmares. But if he doesn’t, we will have to learn to accept Reid for who he is.

Good, not great.

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