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2018 NFL playoffs: Titans at Patriots ... I never saw this coming

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Marcus Mariota rallied the Titans back to beat the Chiefs and earn a trip to New England, much to The King’s surprise.

Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs
If nothing else, Marcus Mariota can always brag about the time he threw a touchdown pass to himself.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It’s amazing how little I actually know about anything. In four wild card games this past weekend, only one team I picked to cover (Atlanta) actually covered. The Falcons then proceeded to win the game outright, which I did not predict, prematurely ending the season for the Rams and bumming me out a little bit because we haven’t even reached the divisional round yet and both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are both already finished.

Essentially, I went 1-3 throughout the entire wild card round, the Bills managed to cover the spread in Jacksonville while only scoring three points, and the Titans somehow shocked the Chiefs to earn a trip to Foxboro for a divisional round meeting with the Patriots. I didn’t expect any of this. What the heck happened this weekend?

So the official matchup is Pats-Titans on Saturday night, with the winner advancing to the AFC Championship game. I was completely prepared for Pats-Chiefs. Maybe even Pats-Bills. But Pats-Titans? This was the last thing I expected. If you read my wild card picks column over the weekend, you’ll recall that I didn’t give Tennessee a chance to beat Kansas City. To quote my idiot self, I wrote that Marcus Mariota “is an average quarterback at best” and that “he’s not a guy you can expect to go into a road playoff game and actually play well enough to win.” All Mariota did was rally the Titans back from an 18-point deficit, throw an inadvertent touchdown pass to himself (we’ll never see that again), and throw a crucial block for Derrick Henry on the drive that clinched the game.

I expected Mariota, who has never really done much to prove otherwise, to become extra shaky in a road playoff game, especially against a turnover-hungry defense and in one of the loudest stadiums in the league. Instead, he got better in the biggest moments of the game, and capped it off when he threw a 22-yard strike to Eric Decker for the game-winning touchdown. I’m sorry, Marcus. You proved me wrong.

At the same time, however, the Titans also won partially because the Chiefs choked away a 21-3 lead. This is what they do in the playoffs (trust me, I’m never betting on Andy Reid and Alex Smith in a playoff game ever again), so I really should’ve foreseen the possibility. But I didn’t. I never even imagined the possibility of the Titans coming to New England for the divisional round. And that’s why I’m an idiot. Again, well done, Marcus.

That being said, I wish Marcus the best of luck. As much as I counted the Titans out of their game against the Chiefs, I’m counting them out even more against the Patriots. They maxed out last week, and for a team that probably shouldn’t still be playing, a playoff game in Foxboro is just about the last place you want to find yourself. Tennessee will be lucky if they lose by less than 20 points.

I was wrong about the Titans once. I won’t be wrong about them this time.

I hope.