Chiefs Seek Revenge on Bengals in AFC Championship
Last year, the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs faced off in one of the most exciting AFC Championships as of late.
Joe Burrow led Cincinnati’s second-half comeback and the drive for the game-winning field goal in overtime.
The two teams will play again in the AFC Championship on Sunday.
The key for the Bengals heading into Sunday is to neutralize tight end Travis Kelce.
When the two teams faced off in December, the Bengals were able to win because they held Kelce to 56 receiving yards.
With Tyreek Hill’s departure, the Chiefs don’t have a skill player that can hurt a team on every play outside of Kelce.
When Patrick Mahomes is in the game, it’s difficult to completely shut down the Chiefs’ offense. But stopping Kelce is how to make the offense less productive.
However, it may be easier to slow down the Chiefs offense on Sunday as Mahomes is dealing with a high-ankle sprain that he suffered in the win in the Divisional round.
He was still able to complete 22 of his 30 passes, threw for 195 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Mahomes was able to get the job done, but couldn’t play with the explosiveness that he normally does.
If Mahomes can’t play his normal game, Cincinnati should have the advantage in a shootout with its talent at offensive skill positions.
The Bengals have had a pass-first offense all season. When they played the Ravens in the Wild Card, it seemed like stopping their pass game would shut down their whole offense as they wouldn’t be able to run the ball.
But they were able to run the ball effectively against the Bills as Joe Mixon had 105 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
The Bengals also played very well defensively as they held a very high-powered offense in the Bills to 10 points in the Divisional Round.
Cincinnati’s weakest group on its roster is its offensive line. This could be a favorable match-up for Kansas City’s defensive tackle Chris Jones who had 15.5 sacks on the season.
The Chiefs don’t have big names at the defensive end positions, but rookie George Karlaftis showed a lot of promise late in the season. Between Jones, Karlaftis and the Bengals’ weak offensive line, Burrow could be facing a lot of pressure and it could affect his play.
But, Burrow has never had a very strong offensive line his whole career and that hasn’t stopped him so far. He has proven over these past two seasons that he can still win games despite facing pressure in the pocket.
It is very hard to bet against the Chiefs at home and Mahomes, even when he is injured. But a high-ankle sprain is still very hard to play through.
The Bengals also seemed to find their stride offensively against the Bills even in a snowstorm.
It should be another close matchup in the next edition of this recent rivalry, but these factors should give Cincinnati the advantage.
Jayson O’Connell is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.