Kyle Shanahan's previous Super Bowl experience left him with "scars" and he vowed not to ease up if the San Francisco 49ers find themselves in a similar position this Sunday.

Three years ago Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons when they led 28-3 against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

However, in one of the most astonishing sporting comebacks of all time, Tom Brady guided the Patriots to a fifth Lombardi Trophy with an overtime win that had some criticising Shanahan's second-half play-calling.

The 40-year-old is now the head coach of the Niners and will hope he can finally win a first ring when San Francisco face the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami on Sunday.

"Everyone asks what I learned from that Super Bowl; I wish I could say there was some easy answer that would have fixed us not blowing that lead," Shanahan said on Tuesday.

"I go back and I'm hard on myself on everything. I know the plays I wish I called differently, especially a second-and-11 pass once we got down there [near the end zone] that led to a sack. That was about it.

"You realise when you're playing good teams, good quarterbacks, that you can never relax.

"No matter what situation I've been in since then - you can ask our players, our coaches - I freaked out at [defensive coordinator Robert] Saleh when he tried to take the starters out against Minnesota

"We were up like three scores with two minutes to go and I freaked out. Then I did the math and I thought it was alright.

"You get some of that scars from that stuff so guys were messing with me with that but besides that, it's about that."

Another of Shanahan's regrets was not drafting quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the man Saleh and the defense must likely stop if the Niners are to win Super Bowl LIV.

Shanahan had just been appointed the 49ers head coach prior to the 2017 NFL Draft when Mahomes came out of college and his team owned the second overall pick.

Yet Shanahan thought San Francisco could wait and acquire Kirk Cousins the following the year, so they passed on future Chiefs star Mahomes, later trading for current starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

On Mahomes, the 2018 MVP and arguably the NFL's best quarterback, Shanahan said: "I didn't look into him, obviously, as much as I should have.

He added: "There's always a risk with that when you spend a first-round pick on a quarterback.

"With the situation we were in, we didn't want to be that risky, especially with the second pick in the draft. We didn't [study Mahomes] as hard. Obviously, he ended up being one of the best players in the league, along with a couple of other quarterbacks that year. He's extremely talented."

Andy Reid is one of the NFL's most successful head coaches, but there is one thing that has so far eluded him in that job.

His place in Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame will surely be assured if he can claim a first Super Bowl ring by leading the Kansas City Chiefs past the San Francisco 49ers in Miami on Sunday.

Until he gets that monkey off his back, Reid has the most victories among NFL head coaches who have not won a title in that role.

Here we take a look at who else features high on that list.

 

ANDY REID - 207 regular-season wins, 14 playoff wins

There is a Super Bowl ring in Reid's collection, but it came when he was the Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach and assistant to Mike Holmgren at Super Bowl XXXI.

Since being elevated to the top job with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, Reid has had 16 winning seasons, including seven in a row in Kansas City.

Yet his only previous appearance in the Big Dance was at Super Bowl XXXIX, when the Eagles were beaten by a New England Patriots team wrapping up a dynasty.

MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER - 200 regular-season wins, five playoff wins

A head coach with the Cleveland Browns, Chiefs, Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers, Schottenheimer had no problems getting teams into the postseason.

Yet he had a 5-13 record in the playoffs and never made it to a Super Bowl.

His teams went one-and-done nine times in the postseason, including San Diego's 2006 Divisional Round home loss to the Pats - after Schottenheimer's Chargers had gone 14-2 in the regular season.

DAN REEVES - 190 regular-season wins, 11 playoff wins

Had the distinction of taking two teams to the Super Bowl like Reid, but both the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons came up short under Reeves' guidance.

His career as an NFL head coach spanned 23 seasons and three teams - the Broncos, New York Giants and Falcons.

Reeves took the Broncos to three Super Bowls in four years and guided a 14-2 Falcons team all way to Super Bowl XXXIII, yet on each occasion, he was on the losing side.

JEFF FISHER - 173 regular-season wins, five playoff wins

Fisher's teams had sub-.500 seasons in each of his last six seasons as an NFL head coach, but a decade of success with the Tennessee Titans ensured he amassed the wins.

The Titans first reached the playoffs in the 1999-00 season, winning three times before losing to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, when Kevin Dyson fell one yard short of scoring and potentially forcing overtime.

Like Reid, he does have a Super Bowl ring, with Fisher on injured reserve when the 1985 Chicago Bears and their much-vaunted defense won the Lombardi Trophy.

BUD GRANT - 158 regular-season wins, 10 playoff wins

A Pro Football and Canadian Football Hall of Famer, the only thing missing from Grant's resume was a Super Bowl ring.

He got close - replicating Reeves and Marv Levy in getting to the showpiece event four times but never getting over the hump as his Minnesota Vikings team lost to the Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders in the 1970s.

However, Grant did win four Grey Cups in Canada, guiding the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to the showpiece game in five times in six years.

MARV LEVY - 143 regular-season wins, 11 playoff wins

Levy's Buffalo Bills endured a stretch of Super Bowl heartbreak that has never been matched. From 1990 to 1993 Buffalo were the class of the AFC, only to come up short in the Super Bowl in four consecutive seasons.

Scott Norwood's infamous missed field goal with four seconds left - a play now simply known as "wide right" - denied them victory in Super Bowl XXV against the Giants, but the subsequent year's game with the Redskins and a pair of clashes with the Dallas Cowboys ended in blowouts.

Levy did win two Grey Cups with the Montreal Alouettes, but the Pro Football Hall of Famer was never able to add a Super Bowl ring to an otherwise magnificent resume.

When the San Francisco 49ers face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, they will have a chance to round off an incredible decade for Bay Area sport in style.

The 2010s has seen three World Series trophies and three NBA titles come to the Bay, with the 49ers and San Jose Sharks also enjoying postseason positives alongside the dominance enjoyed by the San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors.

Sunday's showpiece in Miami, which brings to an end a magnificent 2019 season for the 49ers, will mark the 11th championship decider to feature a Bay Area team since 2010.

The 2019 Niners will hope they can add the finishing touches to a remarkable 10 years, and here we look at the teams that have gone before them in reaching the biggest stage in their respective sports in a decade that has brought plenty to celebrate.

2010: San Francisco Giants – Won World Series

The Giants moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958, but the city's fans had to wait 52 years to see the franchise win a World Series title as a west coast team. That drought was finally ended in manager Bruce Bochy's fourth season in charge.

The Giants beat the Texas Rangers in five games, with Edgar Renteria hitting a three-run home-run in a decisive 3-1 victory secured when Brian Wilson's strikeout clinched the first of three titles in five seasons for Bochy's men.

2012: San Francisco Giants – Won World Series

On the back of consecutive home defeats in the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds, the Giants' hopes of regaining the World Series looked slim. However, after winning game three in extra innings, San Francisco claimed that series in five games thanks to NL MVP Buster Posey's grand slam in the decider.

They pulled off another comeback in the Championship Series, recovering from 3-1 down to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, but the World Series proved a routine affair as the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers to take the trophy back to San Francisco.

2012: San Francisco 49ers – Lost Super Bowl XLVII

Having suffered an agonising overtime loss to the New York Giants the season before, the 49ers went one better and, thanks to Colin Kaepernick's emergence and the play of a dominant defense, made it to the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

There would be more heartbreak for the Niners, though, as – in a game remembered by most for the power outage that caused a 34-minute interruption in play – Jim Harbaugh's team were unable to complete a comeback from 28-6 down. John Harbaugh won the battle of the brothers, his Baltimore Ravens clinging on for a 34-31 win.

2014: San Francisco Giants – Won World Series

Few would have expected the Giants to improve on their heroics of 2012 when they made the postseason as a Wild Card team but, after crushing the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Wild Card game, they embarked on another improbable run.

The Giants saw off the Washington Nationals and then won the NLCS against the Cardinals on home soil in Game 5 thanks to Travis Ishikawa's walk-off homer. An epic World Series with the Kansas City Royals went seven games, with Madison Bumgarner's Herculean pitching effort the decisive factor.

2014-15: Golden State Warriors – Won NBA Finals

Golden State spent much of the first season of their dynasty listening to questions about whether a "jump-shooting team" could win the NBA title. Those questions were emphatically answered time and again over the coming years by one of the most dominant teams in NBA history.

In Steve Kerr's first season after taking over from Mark Jackson, Stephen Curry claimed the MVP award as the Warriors went 67-15. They eventually progressed to the NBA Finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the Warriors ending a 40-year wait for a title in six games thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of Andre Iguodala, who was named Finals MVP for his defense on LeBron.

2015-16: San Jose Sharks – Lost Stanley Cup Finals

Having formed in 1991, the Sharks' quarter-century wait to experience a Stanley Cup Finals series was finally ended when they overcame the St. Louis Blues in six games to win the Western Conference.

The Cup did not make its way to the Bay for the first time, however, as the Pittsburgh Penguins prevailed 4-2 in an absorbing finals series that featured two overtime games. San Jose have yet to return to the same stage and the Sharks' wait to reach the top of the mountain in the NHL goes on.

2015-16: Golden State Warriors – Lost NBA Finals

The Warriors appeared destined to secure back-to-back titles throughout the 2015-16 campaign, which they started with an astounding 28-game winning streak, the second-longest in NBA history.

Behind a unanimous MVP season from Curry, the Warriors broke the record for regular-season wins by going 73-9 but, in the postseason, they made history for the wrong reasons. Golden State overturned a 3-1 deficit to the Oklahoma City Thunder to reach the NBA Finals, but they ended up on the other end of a comeback as LeBron delivered on his promise to bring a title to Cleveland with the Cavaliers. The Warriors became the first team in history to lose a Finals having led 3-1.

2016-17: Golden State Warriors – Won NBA Finals

Golden State's response to their heartbreaking defeat to the Cavs was to add one of the best ever to take to the court to the roster. Kevin Durant had been on the Thunder team undone by the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, but he controversially made the move to join his conquerors, and it was one that paid huge dividends.

The Warriors did not put the same effort into the regular season as they had done when in pursuit of the record in 2015-16 but, with Durant in the line-up, they were unstoppable in the playoffs. Golden State lost just one game in the postseason, swatting aside the competition and defeating the Cavaliers 4-1 in the Finals. Durant averaged 35.2 points per game and added the only two things missing from his glittering resume: an NBA title and the Finals MVP award.

2017-18: Golden State Warriors – Won NBA Finals

Though the second act with Durant on the team may not have been quite as impressive as the first – the Warriors had to fight back from 3-2 down to beat the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals – LeBron and the Cavs still proved powerless to stop them marching to back-to-back NBA crowns in a Finals sweep.

Such was the Warriors' dominance that the biggest question of the Finals was whether it would be Curry or Durant who would win Finals MVP. Durant won that debate, further vindicating the decision that caused so much consternation two years earlier.

2018-19: Golden State Warriors – Lost NBA Finals

The Warriors' addition of DeMarcus Cousins in the offseason following their third title in four seasons gave them the possibility of starting five All-Stars. Rarely did a line-up of Curry, Durant, Cousins, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green see the floor at the same time, however, and injuries eventually became too much for Golden State to overcome.

Durant missed a large portion of the postseason with a strained calf and attempted to return in Game 5 of the Finals with the Toronto Raptors. His decision proved ill-fated, though, as Durant ruptured his Achilles in what proved his final game for the Warriors. Golden State pushed the series to Game 6, but Thompson's torn ACL effectively ended their hopes as the Raptors won the title for the first time.

2019: San Francisco 49ers – ???

It has been an incredible turnaround for the 49ers who, after going 6-10 and 4-12 in their first two seasons under Kyle Shanahan, are a win away from a sixth Super Bowl title.

Legendary Niners coach Bill Walsh went 2-14 and 6-10 in his first two seasons before, like Shanahan, going 13-3 in his third in 1981.

The Niners went on to win the Super Bowl and start a dynasty under Walsh and, throughout an emotional rollercoaster of a season in which they have won several nail-biting games, Shanahan's men have felt like a team destined for glory.

Their challenge now is to turn destiny into reality.

The key players in Super Bowl LIV expressed their admiration for Kobe Bryant at Opening Night on Monday, a day after the former Los Angeles Lakers star died in a helicopter crash.

A moment of silence was held for Bryant at Marlins Park in Miami, where players from both the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs spoke about the NBA great.

The 18-time All Star was killed, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others on Sunday, shortly before the Niners and Chiefs arrived in Miami.

Here is what some of the leading Chiefs and 49ers players said about Bryant's death.

 

Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs quarterback): "I wasn't lucky enough to get to meet Kobe. But the impact that he made in my life, it was huge. The way he was able to go about every single day and the work ethic and the intensity that he had to be great every single day. Even to this day, I still watch videos on YouTube the day before games."

George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers tight end): "Other than my parents, he was the reason I played sports. Just his mindset, the 'Mamba mentality'. I wore the number 24 in high school, my freshman, sophomore year, because of him. I wore Kobe Bryant basketball shoes because of Kobe Bryant. Every time I laced up my basketball shoes, I felt like I had Kobe Bryant with me. I had a little part of him."

Richard Sherman (San Francisco 49ers cornerback): "There's not enough words in my vernacular, in my vocabulary, to give him the praise and the respect that he deserves. But he deserves every inch, every ounce of respect, every ounce of gratitude. He gave me a ton of inspiration and I'm sure he inspired millions and millions and trillions of other kids."

Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs tight end): "I had an opportunity to meet Kobe and he's just an unbelievable person. You can't say enough about who he was and his impact and with that, I just feel bad for the Bryant family, everybody involved out there on the west coast. My heart's with you as well as everyone here in America."

Frank Clark (Kansas City Chiefs defensive end): "The one person I looked to for inspiration and all my strength growing up when I was going through the things I was going through was Kobe Bryant. He was a successful guy and that's the one thing you look to. You look at the gangs and you look at the drug dealers and then you look at the guys who are successful."

Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City Chiefs safety): "His will to win was nothing I'd ever seen before. I thought I practiced hard but going through YouTube videos and watching Kobe at practice, he was in a complete different element."

Dante Pettis (San Francisco 49ers wide receiver): "The way he attacked life, there was nothing Kobe couldn’t defeat. He was a hero. A hero in general. In everything he did. It wasn't just sports. He wasn't just a basketball player. Everything he did, he gave 100 percent. That's something I'd like to be able to do. I wanted to live like him."

Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers quarterback): "We were actually on the plane ride in, and someone told me in the seat behind me. Honestly, I didn't even believe it. It didn't register at first. Just so sudden and everything like that. It's hard to accept but just a terrible, terrible tragedy."

Patrick Mahomes was considered the "greatest player" Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach had ever seen when he entered the NFL, Andy Reid said.

The Chiefs are reaping the rewards of trading up to land Mahomes with the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, going one better and reaching Super Bowl LIV in Miami after falling in the AFC Championship Game last year.

That was Mahomes' MVP campaign and his body of work across his two seasons as the starter - during which time he has thrown 9,128 passing yards and 76 touchdowns - suggest he might be the best quarterback in the game right now.

Few believed Mahomes could make such an impact prior to the 2017 Draft, yet Chiefs head coach Reid revealed Veach was convinced he was not just great, but the best ever.

"You knew he was going to be great," said Reid, whose team face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV this Sunday.  

"Brett Veach said it; he's our general manager. He said he's the greatest player he'd ever seen.

"That's quite a tribute to the kid. Now that I've been around him, and you've watched him play, he's pretty doggone good."

Such was Veach's confidence in Mahomes, the Chiefs packaged two first-rounders and a third to acquire the former Texas Tech signal caller.

His sensational arm strength, ability to throw from different angles, on the run and even without looking have ensured he has astounded in the professional ranks.

According to Tyreek Hill, that talent is coupled with a leader's mentality that reminds him of a wrestling great.

"There's this thing that he does on the sidelines. Almost like The Rock, when he smoulders," Hill added.

"Then he'll just like be serious, he'll be like 'Come on, guys, let's go, man' and get us turned up and get us fired up.

"Having him is definitely a blessing. He's a tremendous leader on and off the field. He leads by example, he's always working hard, trying to be the best.

"Pat is very different, man. Like you see most guys, you'll be like 'Man, he's very talented but he don't got the work ethic.' Well, Pat got both."

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo revealed former New England Patriots team-mate Tom Brady has wished him well ahead of Super Bowl LIV.

Brady and Garoppolo were colleagues in Foxborough but the former's evergreen play meant the latter was traded to San Francisco in 2017 before he became a coveted free agent.

Long viewed as the Patriots' heir apparent, Garoppolo is instead blazing his own trail for Brady's boyhood team and this Sunday he will bid to win the Niners' sixth Super Bowl ring when they face the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami.

Six-time Super Bowl champion Brady, normally preoccupied with work during this week, has been in touch with Garoppolo to offer some simple advice on the NFL's showpiece event.

"He shot me a text, just, 'Good luck', and everything like that," Garoppolo said.

"Just go handle business. Wasn't too complicated or anything, just 'Go win'."

Garoppolo was a two-time Super Bowl winner himself as Brady's deputy, a role he occupied for three years.

He believes his time spent working with arguably the greatest quarterback of all time has served him well now the spotlight is firmly on him.

"He was awesome," Garoppolo added.

"Everything he did, I never tried to be much of a pest and ask too many questions, but just watching him from afar how he went about his business, how he handled off-the-field things, on the field, whatever it was, he always did it the right way.

"So he gave me a good example when I was young."

Garoppolo witnessed Brady engineer fourth-quarter comebacks against the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowls, and marvelled at how cool he could stay on the biggest stage.

"I think just how calm he was," Garoppolo added of what he learned from Brady.

"Everyone says you've got to treat it like another game, [but] just the way he actually did it.

"I was up close and personal, picking up everything I could, seeing how he went about his business."

The Niners quarterback is not the only one to have been receiving advice from someone close to him ahead of the Super Bowl.

Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa's brother, Joey, plays for the Los Angeles Chargers, who faced Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes twice a season.

The younger Bosa therefore made sure he got some tips from big brother about how to slow down one of the game's most unique signal callers.

"He definitely told me you can't rush as a single rusher," Nick Bosa revealed.

"You have to rush as a unit, stay in your lanes and not let him get out of the pocket."

Travis Kelce professed his love for the NFL's "best quarterback" after Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs past the Tennessee Titans and into the Super Bowl.

Mahomes starred in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, throwing three touchdowns and rushing for a sensational 27-yard score to help the Chiefs clinch a 35-24 victory.

Kansas City will now face either the San Francisco 49ers or the Green Bay Packers in their first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years and tight end Kelce was in the mood to celebrate.

The 30-year-old interrupted Mahomes' post-game interview with broadcaster CBS to boisterously praise the reigning NFL MVP.

"This is the best quarterback in the National Football League right here, baby," Kelce said.

"And he shows it every time! Humble as can be. I f****** love you!"

Mahomes went 23 of 35 for 294 passing yards as he became the first player in the team's history to record multiple passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a postseason game.

The two-time Pro Bowler called the victory a vindication of the Chiefs' willingness to succeed in any manner necessary.

"I knew going into the NFL I was going to do whatever it took to just win games," Mahomes said.

"You can see that in every single player on this team. We don't care if we win 10-7 or 35-24. We're just going to go out there and find a way to win the football game, whatever it takes."

Patrick Mahomes inspired the Kansas City Chiefs to a 35-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game and a first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years.

Chiefs quarterback Mahomes went 23 of 35 for 294 passing yards and three touchdowns at Arrowhead Stadium, while also rushing for an incredible 27-yard score at the end of the first half.

The reigning NFL MVP became the first player in Chiefs franchise history to record multiple passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a postseason game.

Tyreek Hill had two receiving touchdowns and Sammy Watkins found the end zone off a 60-yard reception from Mahomes to end the Titans' impressive playoff run, which included victories over the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.

Running back Derrick Henry started positively with a four-yard rushing touchdown for Tennessee, but Hill hit 21.27 miles per hour off an eight-yard reception to reduce the arrears.

After a string of penalties from the Chiefs defense, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill found Dennis Kelly with a one-yard touchdown pass at the end of a 15-play, 75-yard drive that lasted nine minutes and seven seconds to restore his team's 10-point advantage – the 321-pound offensive lineman becoming the heaviest player with a receiving TD in postseason history.

Hill crossed for a 20-yard receiving touchdown before Mahomes took matters into his own hands with a stunning solo score 11 seconds before half-time, sending the Chiefs into the interval with a 21-17 lead.

Kansas City's defense frustrated the Titans in the third quarter and Damien Williams made it seven touchdowns in four postseason games as a Chief when he finished over the ground from three yards at the start of the final period.

Mahomes' stunning pass to Watkins put the Chiefs 18 points clear and a 22-yard touchdown reception for Anthony Firkser after pulling off a fake punt proved to be solely a consolation for the Titans.

Patrick Mahomes scored a sensational 27-yard rushing touchdown to send the Kansas City Chiefs into half-time of the AFC Championship Game against the Tennessee Titans 21-17 up.

Reigning MVP Mahomes sprinted out of the pocket to the left sideline and managed to stay inbounds, before evading tackles from Tramaine Brock and Amani Hooker to reach the end zone with 11 seconds of the half remaining.

The quarterback consequently became the first player in Chiefs franchise history to record multiple passing touchdowns – having twice found Tyreek Hill – and a rushing touchdown in a postseason game.

Tennessee beat the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens to reach the AFC Championship Game.

They had led 17-7 after a four-yard rushing touchdown for Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill's one-yard touchdown pass to offensive linesman Dennis Kelly.

For the Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl LIV is tantalisingly close.

Andy Reid's Chiefs are hoping to go one step further after being beaten in last year's AFC Championship Game and they will host a Titans team that has already upset the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens on the road.

In the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers host the Packers in a contest between two offensive-minded head coaches in Kyle Shanahan and Matt LaFleur, both of whom have had success without their quarterbacks lighting up the stats sheet.

We preview the AFC and NFC Championship Games using Stats Perform data.

 

SUNDAY (All times Eastern)

Titans (9-7) @ Chiefs (12-4). 3:05pm

- The Titans have won each of the last four meetings between the two, including the 2017 Wild Card Game at Arrowhead Stadium. In the previous three meetings, including one back in Week 10, Tennessee have erased a fourth-quarter deficit to win.

- Tennessee had 418 yards combined on the ground while totalling only 154 passing yards in the wins over New England and Baltimore. In the postseason, their defense has produced five takeaways and as many fourth-down stops.

- Red-hot Titans running back Derrick Henry has amassed 812 rushing yards in third quarters of games this season. The last player to rush for at least 800 yards across quarters was Terrell Davis in 1998 (824 yards, first quarters).

- Kansas City beat the Houston Texans the hard way in the Divisional Round, overturning a 24-point deficit - the largest in franchise history - to win 51-31.

- The Chiefs are looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years since they won Super Bowl IV.

 

Packers (13-3) @ 49ers (13-3). 6:40pm

- Only the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams (nine) have met more frequently in the playoffs than the Packers and 49ers, who will face each other for the eighth time.

- Should Green Bay beat the 49ers and win Super Bowl LIV, they would equal the NFL record for the most postseason wins (37 - New England Patriots).

- San Francisco are bidding to win two home playoff games for the fifth time in their history. On the previous four occasions the Niners are have won two home playoff games (1981, 1984, 1989 and 1994), they have gone on to win the Super Bowl.

- Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed just 16 passes - his fewest in a postseason start - in the Divisional Round win over the Seattle Seahawks. Meanwhile, Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had a season-low 131 passing yards in their win over the Minnesota Vikings last weekend.

- The home team will be concerned about the threat of Davante Adams, who has 17 catches for 175 receiving yards and three touchdowns against the Niners. He also set a franchise playoff record with 160 receiving yards in the win over Seattle.

Deshaun Watson insisted Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is the right man for the job, despite the team's stunning loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL playoffs.

The Texans blew a 24-0 lead in Kansas City as the red-hot Chiefs rallied to win 51-31 en route to the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Houston conceded 41 consecutive points, with the Chiefs becoming the first team in history to win a postseason game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 20.

Texans quarterback Watson, though, stood by O'Brien – who has been in charge since 2014.

"There's no doubt," Watson told reporters when asked whether O'Brien is the right coach for the Texans. "I mean, you might have doubt, but there's no doubt. I mean, I love that man. I'm going to play hard for that man. Y'all can say whatever you want to say through all the media and all the writing, but as long as I'm at quarterback, he's cool with me.

"He's got my heart. He's going to get all of my 110 per cent every time I step on that field. So y'all can say whatever, but [I'll] always be rooting for that man and going to play hard for him."

The Texans entered the divisional-round contest having topped the Buffalo Bills in a wild-card clash – their second playoff win under O'Brien.

Houston also wrapped up their fourth AFC South crown in five seasons as they eyed a first conference championship appearance.

O'Brien said: "I feel like we are moving in the right direction. I think we did a lot of good things this year. Not enough, obviously. I feel good about where we are headed."

Kansas City Chiefs star and reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes proved he is the best quarterback in the NFL after leading an incredible comeback against the Houston Texans, according to team-mate Travis Kelce.

Mahomes became the first player in playoff history to throw for 300-plus yards, rush for 50-plus yards and throw five touchdowns in a game as the Chiefs erased a 24-0 deficit to beat the Texans 51-31 and move through to the AFC championship on Sunday.

The Chiefs quarterback was at the forefront of the biggest comeback in franchise history – Mahomes finishing 23 of 35 for 321 yards and five touchdowns, while he rushed for 53 on seven carries.

"Not anybody in Kansas City, I'll tell you that right now," Kelce told the NFL Network when asked if some forgot how good Mahomes was due to Lamar Jackson's exploits with the Baltimore Ravens this season. "Pat Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league, and he proved it today."

The Chiefs reeled off 41 successive points to dig themselves out of a big hole and top the visiting Texans in Kansas City, becoming the first team in history to win a postseason game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 20 points.

Standing in the way of the Chiefs and a Super Bowl berth are the giant-slaying Tennessee Titans.

"Obviously we didn't start the way we wanted to, but all we were preaching -- offense, defense and special teams -- is let's do something special," Mahomes said. "Everybody's already counting us out, let's keep fighting and just go one play at a time, and we found a way. Obviously, this is a huge win and now we've got the AFC championship game at home."

Chiefs tight end Kelce, who had three TDs, added: "I've never been a part of a team like this, either, so it was, I guess, a perfect match there, after we went down.

"Just leaned on each other, circled the wagons, get a little bit tighter when things get a little rough and lean on your brother. And when in doubt make plays for your guy back there. 1-5 [Mahomes] got us going, 17 was the one that really sparked us there on the special teams and, you know what, this defense played their tails off all game."

The Kansas City Chiefs scored 41 unanswered points as they incredibly erased a 24-point second-quarter deficit to defeat the Houston Texans 51-31 and book a place in the AFC Championship Game.

A day after the Tennessee Titans' stunning defeat of the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens, another upset appeared on the cards as the Texans raced into a 24-0 lead at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City committed a series of mistakes in a disjointed start that seemingly put the Texans in command, however, the Chiefs found their rhythm on offense in the second quarter and never looked back. 

Last season's MVP Patrick Mahomes threw for 321 yards and five touchdowns, while tight end Travis Kelce and running back Damien Williams each scored three apiece in a remarkable offensive performance from Kansas City that ensured they will host the Titans next Sunday.

The prospect of them doing so seemed an unlikely one when Deshaun Watson hit a wide-open Kenny Stills for a 54-yard touchdown and Lonnie Johnson returned a blocked punt for a score to put the Texans up 14-0.

Another special teams error gave the Chiefs a mountain to climb as Tyreek Hill fumbled a punt and the Texans immediately took advantage, Watson connecting with tight end Darren Fells.

However, the Texans' decision to settle for a field goal on fourth down at Kansas City's 13-yard line turned the tide. 

Mahomes found Williams for a 17-yard touchdown reception to get the Chiefs on the board and, after the Texans failed with a fake punt and were assessed a 28-yard pass interference penalty, he escaped pressure and fired a sidearm throw into Kelce for a five-yard touchdown.

That pair combined again to reduce the deficit to three points after Houston returner DeAndre Carter fumbled on the kick-off, and the Texans' huge lead was wiped out in just over 10 minutes of game clock when Mahomes delivered to Kelce again with a five-yard throw on the run.

Mahomes led a seven-play, 85-yard drive finished off by Williams to start the third quarter. The same man was celebrating again at the end of the next Chiefs' possession, Kansas City aided by three defensive penalties.

A five-yard touchdown run from Watson gave the Texans some hope, but that was extinguished by a four-play, 72-yard drive that Mahomes capped with a touchdown pass to Blake Bell as the Chiefs moved within a win of Super Bowl LIV.

The Tennessee Titans will be hoping history repeats itself when they face the Baltimore Ravens after the San Francisco 49ers lock horns with the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL Divisional playoffs.

Mike Vrabel's Titans sensationally dethroned the New England Patriots with a 20-13 playoff victory last weekend and must defy the odds again to topple the Ravens.

All three postseason encounters between the Titans and the Ravens have been won by the road team, a record Tennessee will fancy their chances of maintaining after stunning the Patriots.

The 49ers host a Vikings side on a high after ending the New Orleans Saints' season, while the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers have home advantage against the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks respectively.

We take a closer look at all the games using Stats Perform data.

 

SATURDAY (All times Eastern)

Vikings (10-6) at 49ers (13-3) 4:35pm

- The two sides will meet in the postseason for the sixth time and first time since the 1997 Divisional Round, with the 49ers holding a 4-1 advantage.

- Minnesota won a first road playoff game since 2004 with a 26-20 overtime victory over New Orleans last week. The Vikings had gone 2-12 in their previous 14 road playoff games dating back to 1988. 

- The 49ers have won at least one playoff game in 13 of their last 15 playoff appearances, most recently winning twice before losing to Seattle in the 2013 NFC Championship. 

 

Titans (9-7) at Ravens (14-2) 8:15pm

- The Ravens have twice won at the Titans in the postseason, 24-10 in the 2000 Divisional Round and 13-10 the same stage 12 years ago. The Titans won the other playoff game 20-17 in the Wild Card Round in 2003.

- Baltimore have had a takeaway in all 24 postseason games in franchise history, the fourth-longest streak in NFL playoff history (Dolphins: 31 from 1970-95, Redskins: 26 from 1983-present, Bears: 25 from 1933-90).

- Lamar Jackson set NFL records for carries (176) and rushing yards (1206) by a quarterback this season, while his 6.85 yards per carry was the highest in NFL history by a player in any position with at least 150 carries.

 

SUNDAY

Texans (10-6) at Chiefs (12-4) 3:05pm

- The only previous postseason game between the teams saw the Chiefs win 30-0 at Houston in a 2015 Wild Card Game, the largest margin of victory in franchise postseason history. 

- The Chiefs closed the regular season with a six-game winning streak; only the Ravens (12) won more games in a row ahead of the playoffs.

- Deshaun Watson completed 80 per cent of his passes (20-for-25), in the Wild Card defeat of the Buffalo Bills. That was the highest mark among starting quarterbacks last weekend, the top mark in Texans postseason history, and tied for second highest in any game in his career. 

 

Seahawks (11-5) at Packers (13-3) 6:40pm

- The Packers have won two of their three playoff clashes with Seattle, but the Seahawks came out on top in their most recent encounter 28-22 in the 2014 NFC Championship match.

- Seattle defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 17-9 last weekend, improving to 8-1 on the road this season. They have never won multiple road games in a single postseason and the last team to do so was the 2013 49ers. 

- Since 2010, only the Patriots (23) and Seahawks (16) have played more postseason games than the Packers (15). 

Andy Reid hinted the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants are interested in his Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

The Panthers and Giants are without head coaches after sacking Ron Rivera and Pat Shurmur respectively.

Highly rated offensive coordinator Bieniemy has been touted as a candidate for both teams, and Reid – whose Chiefs side on Sunday clinched a first-round bye for the playoffs – suggested the reports are true.

"I can tell you that you're probably heading in the right direction," Reid told a media conference on Monday when asked if the Panthers and Giants had been in touch over Bieniemy's availability. 

"As we sit here today, it's that time of the year, but you know how I feel about Eric. I think he'd be tremendous.

"There's a team out there, I don't know the team, but there's a team out there that could use him, being the leader of men that he is.

"You're not going to find people better than that and he's got a sharp offensive mind on top of that. I'm a big fan, I don't want to lose him, but realistically, that's what it is."

Reid confirmed safety Juan Thornhill will miss the postseason after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the Chiefs' 31-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

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