Chiefs, Packers seek Super Bowl 1 rematch in 100th NFL season
San Francisco (AFP)
Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes will try to flip the script from NFL regular-season defeats Sunday and lead their teams into a rematch of Super Bowl 1.
KC quarterback Mahomes and the Chiefs will entertain giant-killers Tennessee while veteran passer Rodgers guides the Packers into San Francisco in playoff showdowns that will decide the opponents in next month's Super Bowl championship spectacle on February 2 at Miami.
"There's an appreciation there's only four teams left. That's pretty cool," Rodgers said. "There are 28 teams on vacation right now and we're still going."
The Packers defeated the Chiefs in the first Super Bowl in 1967 and having them meet again for the title would be a full-circle moment to close the NFL's 100th season.
But the 49ers and Titans have other ideas.
Tennessee, powered by NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry, went on the road and eliminated defending champion New England and season win leader Baltimore.
Now the Titans face a Chiefs team they defeated 35-32 in November.
"It came down to the wire," Henry said. "It was a great game, a great battle. They are stout on the d-line, their linebackers are physical -– they are a great all-around group."
San Francisco defeated Green Bay 37-8 in November but the Packers have won six in a row since then and look forward to the rematch.
"We've got to start faster than we did earlier in the season. You realize playing against them how good they are," Rodgers said.
"I feel good about the stretch we've been on. We learned a lot about ourselves in the process. The last six weeks I felt really locked in with the preparation.
"We've been playing a little bit better. It's just fine tuning some stuff that has helped us play a little more intelligently, a little more reactively."
A difficult 49ers defense will test Rodgers, who was the Most Valuable Player of Green Bay's 2011 Super Bowl triumph over Pittsburgh.
"I've never been on a team with a top-10 defense and our team has played like a top defense," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.
San Francisco will have tight end George Kittle back after an ankle injury last week, Shanahan saying he "had some wear and tear, was a little sore, but he's doing well."
Shanahan could join his father Mike, who coached Denver to two Super Bowl wins, as the first father and son duo to ever coach in Super Bowls.
"That would be something special," Kyle Shanahan said. "If I get there I'll think about it."
Henry ran for 195 yards in Tennessee's victory at Baltimore and 182 yards in the Titans' triumph at New England.
He ran for 188 yards in the earlier win over the Chiefs. And he's ready for a third consecutive playoff game with more than 30 rushes.
"I think I get in a rhythm the more carries I get," Henry said. "I get a better feel for the game as the game goes on."
That's not great news for Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
"Their offensive line does a nice job and he has got good vision, quick feet, and he's big and strong. He's a heck of a player," Reid said of Henry.
Reid sees few changes since the prior matchup.
"I think they're playing confident, aggressive football," he said of the Titans. "We've still got a lot of work to do to get ready for this game."
- One team's title wait will end -
Somebody's long wait for a Super Bowl crown will end soon.
The Chiefs won their only Super Bowl crown in 1970, defeating Minnesota 23-7, and hope to end a half-century title drought.
The 49ers, who won four NFL crowns in the 1980s, haven't captured the Super Bowl since 1995, when Steve Young led a rout of San Diego in Miami. They did lose to Baltimore in the 2013 Super Bowl.
The Packers haven't won since 2011. Before that it was Brett Favre leading Green Bay over New England in the 1997 Super Bowl.
The Titans, formed in 1960 as the Houston Oilers, played in their only Super Bowl in 2000, losing to the St. Louis Rams when a last-play pass finished one yard short of a touchdown.
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