Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller is a Super Bowl MVP, an eight-time Pro Bowler, a seven-time All-Pro, a former Defensive Rookie of the Year and one of only a handful of players this season who matched up against all four current NFL playoff teams. One of the best defensive players of his generation, Miller's views of the NFL's final four matter.
In a conversation with B/R, Miller discussed the two conference championship games and broke down each team. First, he gave his overall impression of the clubs:
Green Bay Packers: "You can never, ever count out Aaron Rodgers."
Tennessee Titans: "They have the momentum, and sometimes momentum is the biggest thing in winning this time of the year."
Kansas City Chiefs: "They have the most talented team."
San Francisco 49ers: "They have the best team."
Though his views might lead one to assume what his Super Bowl pick is, his answer was interesting.
"If you had asked me all the way toward the beginning of the season, I would have said the 49ers," Miller explained. "But now I think the Titans."
Why the change of heart?
"It's about momentum," he said. "I've lived through that. When a team gets hot, they are hard to stop, even if the team they're playing is better."
Miller's point is that the Titans aren't just talented; they are surging, and we've seen this at every turn of their postseason. Momentum (and Derrick Henry) carried them past the New England Patriots. Momentum (and Derrick Henry) carried them past the Baltimore Ravens.
During the 2015 season, which ended with Denver in Super Bowl 50, the Broncos started 7-0, but then lost four of their next seven games. They stabilized things by winning their last two games of the regular season, beating the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime and the then-San Diego Chargers by seven.
Those two close wins energized the team, and it went into the playoffs with the momentum Miller referenced. They won their divisional round game against Pittsburgh 23-16, the AFC title game against New England 20-18 and finally, the Super Bowl, 24-10 over Cam Newton's Carolina Panthers.
"Once we got rolling, we didn't think any team could stop us," Miller said.
He believes the Titans feel that way now and it makes sense. After all, they have been playing essentially win-or-go-home contests for the past six weeks. To be fair, it's hard to argue the 49ers haven't also been building momentum, as their fight to get the No. 1 seed came down to the final week and the Minnesota Vikings proved little challenge to them in the divisional round.
Miller, who was made available to B/R as part of his efforts to bring awareness to the issue of glaucoma, a disease that impacts 70 million Americans, didn't fare well against the four conference finalists this season (losing to Green Bay and Kansas City, beating Tennessee 16-0 and, oh, who cares what Denver did against the Niners in the preseason).
But Miller knows when a team has a championship look to it, and in Tennessee, he sees it, especially in an offensive line that has allowed Henry to run for 377 yards in two playoff games.
"They are tough and have a lot of talent," Miller said of the Titans O-line. "And they're very disciplined."
Miller then added one last thought:
"Just remember that these are the playoffs. Anything can happen."