Patrick Mahomes will get redemption in AFC Championship Game

Kansas City Chiefs, NFL Playoffs

The coronation is here, as Patrick Mahomes will find redemption in this year’s AFC Championship to emerge as the unquestioned best quarterback in football.

All that stands in the way of the Kansas City Chiefs’ first trip to the Super Bowl since 1969 is the plucky Tennessee Titans.

After a frustrating 6-4 start to the season, Kansas City has won seven straight games, including an incredible comeback down 24-0 to the Houston Texans last week in the AFC Divisional Round. All the while, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is about to become king.

Mahomes exploded on the scene as a second-year player out of Texas Tech last season. He carved up NFL defenses last year for 50 touchdown passes and 5,097 yards, winning MVP in his first year as a starter. The talent is undeniable. The leadership qualities are impeccable.

However, the only thing standing in Mahomes’ right to the AFC throne is one more home game at Arrowhead this year. He must prevail.

Last season saw the Chiefs earn the No. 1 seed, earning the right to host the AFC Championship Game after knocking Andrew Luck’s Indianapolis Colts out of the playoffs in the Divisional round. However, Mahomes and the 2018 Chiefs didn’t have enough in the tank to put the New England Patriots to rest, losing in heartbreaking fashion in overtime, 37-31.

It wasn’t that Mahomes played poorly last year. In fact, he played well enough to win, completing 16-of-31 for 295 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. Could he have been a tad more accurate? Sure, but we all know about how well-coached the Patriots’ secondary is under Bill Belichick’s tutelage. Plus, going up against the GOAT that is Tom Brady is hard for anyone.

Of course, last year’s conference title bout still stings. Frankly, it probably always will in Chiefs Kingdom. Fortunately for Mahomes and Kansas City, he’s going up against a decent, but not great stop-gap starting quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Do you really think Tannehill has what it takes to hang tough with Mahomes in a good, old-fashioned shootout should the game go that way? Me neither.

Does Mahomes have to recreate the best performance of his young NFL career by beating the Titans in the way he shredded Houston? No, but if Mahomes completes well over 60 percent of his passes, throws for over 300 yards, three touchdowns and doesn’t turn the football over, it would take the greatest game of Derrick Henry’s life to beat the Chiefs and this parlay isn’t happening.

Though Tennessee has a strong defense, it’ll be too difficult for Dean Pees to slow down both wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Odds are, the Titans’ defensive coordinator will do his best to neutralize Kelce and take a chance on Hill having an erratic game as a receiver. But factor in Mahomes’ inevitable coronation Sunday and Tennessee won’t Titan Up.

No, Mahomes doesn’t have to throw for four touchdowns in the second quarter like he’s going up against the Texans or the Oakland Raiders to win this game. He needs to play within himself and know that he’s freaking better than every other football player on the field. When head coach Andy Reid inevitably screws something up, Mahomes will be there to bail him out triumphantly.

Reid has had his struggles in conference championships and against the Titans in his two-decade NFL coaching career. It doesn’t matter that he’s 1-6 in conference title bouts entering Sunday afternoon, nor does it matter that he’s 1-8 vs. Tennessee all time. He has a unicorn at quarterback who will stake his claim on Sunday that the AFC is his and his alone for the next decade.

When Mahomes hoists the Lamar Hunt Trophy at Arrowhead on Sunday evening, we will be witnessing a coronation. The AFC now runs through Kansas City from this point forward. Even if the Chiefs fail to get it done in Miami, the tides have forever turned in Kansas City’s favor for the 2020s.

It’s Mahomes’ conference now.

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