AFC Championship Game features strong Texas ties


WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Two NFL teams originally from Texas, both featuring starting quarterbacks originally from Texas, will face off in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

Only one will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

The Kansas City Chiefs, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, will face off with the Tennessee Titans, led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2:05 p.m. to decide which team heads to the Super Bowl.

Despite their current location, both teams began in the Lone Star State.

AFL Roots in Texas

Both the Chiefs and the Titans were founded in 1960 as charter members of the American Football League, combining to win the first three AFL Championships.

The Titans, who started as the Houston Oilers, won the first two AFL Championships in 1960 and 1961.

The Chiefs began as the Dallas Texans, and while they only played three seasons in Dallas, they won the AFL Championship in 1962 before moving to Kansas City.

The Chiefs won the AFL Championship two more times, in 1966, and 1969.

Their 1966 AFL Championship took them to the first ever NFL-AFL World Championship Game, which they lost to the Green Bay Packers.

In 1969, however, they beat the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth and final NFL-AFL World Championship Game.

After the NFL-AFL Merger of 1970, both teams became members of the AFC, and the NFL-AFL World Championship Game is now known as the Super Bowl.

Neither team has won a Super Bowl since.

From Friday night lights to playing on Sundays

In Texas, high school football is something of a religion. Several books, movies and television shows have been made about it.

So, it seems to follow suit that Texas has a long history of producing great football players.

According to Pro Football Reference, 119 current NFL players hail from the Lone Star State. That’s over two full team rosters worth of players.

Two of those players will lead their teams into the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Kansas City’s star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was born in Tyler, Texas.

He played high school football at the 5A Whitehouse High School in Whitehouse, Texas, just outside of Tyler. He was considered a three-star recruit coming out of high school and ranked as the 12th best dual threat quarterback in his class.

Mahomes was also a great baseball player. His father was a pitcher in the MLB, and Mahomes was selected in the 37th Round of the MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers. He didn’t sign, however, as he was committed to Texas Tech.

Mahomes was the quarterback for the Texas Tech Red Raiders, where he also played baseball. In three years of college, Mahomes threw for 11,252 yards, 93 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.

Mahomes set two NCAA records for most single-game passing yards (734) and the most single game total offensive yards (819). In his junior season, he led the country in yards per game, passing yards, total offense, and total touchdowns.

He decided to forego his senior season and was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Chiefs.

After sitting out a majority of his rookie year behind then-QB Alex Smith, Mahomes had a record-setting season, throwing for 50 touchdowns against only 12 interceptions. He was named to the Pro-Bowl, a first-team All-Pro, an ESPY for Best NFL Player, as well as an NFL MVP award.

Ryan Tannehill, the back-up-turned-starter for the Titans was born in Lubbock, Texas, but grew up and played his high school ball in Big Spring, Texas.

Tannehill also played basketball and ran track and field in high school. At the 2006 District 4A Track & Field Championships, he placed third in the 300m hurdles and second in the triple jump.

He played college football for the Texas A&M Aggies, where he played as a receiver after originally losing the starting QB job. In his freshman season, he posted a single-game freshman record with 12 catches for 210 yards.

Tannehill continued as a receiver thru the middle of the 2010 season, when he took over for Jerrod Johnson. During his first start as QB, he set a school record with 449 passing yards.

He also punted during that game.

Tannehill finished his Texas A&M career with 5,450 passing yards and 42 touchdowns against 21 interceptions. He added 369 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns, as well as 1,596 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns.

Tannehill was drafted in 2012 by the Miami Dolphins, as the 8th overall pick. After a tumultuous tenure with the Dolphins, he was traded to the Titans before this season began.

Originally slated to be the backup to starter Marcus Mariotta, Tannehill took over during Week 6.

Two Texas quarterbacks leading two former Texas franchises to the AFC Championship Game. And while the Chiefs have been considered a Super Bowl contender all season, no one saw the Titans getting to this point.

Different paths lead to the same Championship game

The Kansas City Chiefs have been considered by many to be a Super Bowl favorite for most of the season.

Even after QB Patrick Mahomes suffered an injury that sidelined him during the middle of the season, the Chiefs still finished as the AFC West Champions, claiming a first-round bye in the playoffs.

After trailing in the first quarter of the divisional round playoff game against the Houston Texans 24-0, the Chiefs came storming back with one of the most prolific offensive attacks in post-season history, defeating the Texans 51-31 and advancing to the AFC Championship game.

The Chiefs making it to this game was not a surprise to anyone.

The Titans making it to this game, however, nobody could have seen coming.

After Tannehill took over for Marcus Mariotta during Week 6 of the regular season, the 2-4 Titans finished the season at 9-7, claiming the sixth seed and a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.

Their first test was a road match-up with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, led by future hall-of-famer and six-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.

The Patriots were favored by 5 points.

The Titans won by 7.

As if the Patriots weren’t a big enough giant to face, the following week’s match-up was against the best offense in the NFL, a team everyone was certain would face the Chiefs in the AFC Championship, the Super Bowl favorite Baltimore Ravens, led by MVP candidate Lamar Jackson.

The Titans entered this game as massive underdogs. The Ravens were favored by a whopping 10 points, a statistical sure thing. A true David and Goliath match-up.

But we all remember how that one ended. David beat Goliath.

In the same way, the Titans stunned the Ravens, winning 28-12 and advancing to the AFC Championship Game.

Can the Titans upset yet another Super Bowl contender, or will the Chief’s elite offense prove to be too much for the rolling Titans?

We will know the answer Sunday evening.

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