The Tennessee Titans were big underdogs Saturday as they went to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.
When they went into the locker room with a 21-3 deficit at halftime, the handicappers appeared to be right. However, the Tennessee defense tightened in the second half, and Marcus Mariota came to life as the Titans pulled off a shocking 22-21 upset.
Will the sixth-seeded Buffalo Bills have the same success Sunday when they go on the road to play the AFC South champion Jacksonville Jaguars? That may be difficult considering that star running back LeSean McCoy has a sprained ankle and is listed as questionable for this game.
Since the Bills have a limited offense any way, it will be hard to move the ball and put points on the board if the Jaguars don't turn the ball over.
The Titans did not have a hard time moving the ball in the second half against the Chiefs.
In addition to quarterback Marcus Mariota, who threw two TD passes—including one to himself—the Titans received a huge game from running back Derrick Henry.
After the Chiefs limited the Tennessee offense in the first half, Henry finished the game with 156 yards and a 35-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
The Titans scored their first touchdown in the third quarter when Mariota threw a pass near the Kansas City goal line that got batted back to him. Mariota was alert to catch the ball and dive for the pylon to cut the deficit to 21-10.
Henry's touchdown made the score 21-16, and that gave the Titans the momentum in the final quarter. Mariota followed with the go-ahead 22-yard TD pass to Eric Decker.
The Titans defense held the Chiefs in the final minutes, and a defensive touchdown on a fumble return by Kansas City got wiped out when replay ruled that Henry was on the ground before he lost the ball.
"I feel really good around our football team," said head coach Mike Mularkey, per Stats AP (h/t CBSSports.com). "I know what I'm going to get from them every week. That's a good feeling, knowing how they're going to come out, no matter what."
Tennessee will play the New England Patriots Saturday if the Jaguars beat the Bills. If Buffalo records the upset, Tennessee will play the Pittsburgh Steelers January 14.
The Atlanta Falcons will go to Philadelphia Saturday to play the top-seeded Eagles.
The defending NFC champions upset the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 in their wild-card matchup at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The Falcons defense came out firing and limited Rams quarterback Jared Goff from the start. The Falcons took the lead on a pair of field goals by Matt Bryant, and quarterback Matt Ryan led the offense with 218 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Julio Jones.
While the Falcons are the sixth seed and the Eagles are at the top of the heap, head coach Dan Quinn's team may be in an excellent position to advance to the NFC championship game. The Eagles offense has stalled since losing quarterback Carson Wentz to an ACL late in the season.
Backup Nick Foles has a competent track record, but he did not look comfortable in the last two weeks of the regular season.
The second-seeded Minnesota Vikings will host the winner of Sunday afternoon's game between the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints. Those two NFC South rivals will play the fourth and final game of the wild-card weekend.
Sunday's Wild-Card Schedule
Sunday, Jan. 7, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS): No. 6 Buffalo Bills at No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (-8)
Sunday, Jan. 7, 4:40 p.m. ET (Fox): No. 5 Carolina Panthers at No. 4 New Orleans Saints (-7)
Spreads according to OddsShark.
Divisional Playoff Schedule
Saturday, Jan. 13, 4:35 p.m. ET (NBC): No. 6 Atlanta Falcons at No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles
Saturday, Jan 13, 8:15 p.m. ET (CBS): No. 5 Tennessee Titans or No. 6 Buffalo Bills at No. 1 New England Patriots
Sunday, Jan. 14, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS): No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars or No. 5 Tennessee Titans at No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, Jan. 14, 4:40 p.m. (Fox): No. 5 Carolina Panthers or No. 4 New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings