Cincinnati Bengals

AFC Championship Preview: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs

AFC Championship: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

The final four are set, and the odds of each team making the Super Bowl are almost identical. On the AFC side, it will be the Cincinnati Bengals facing the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.

The last time these two teams squared off was on Dec 4, when the Bengals edged out the Chiefs in a narrow 27-24 victory. The former is also looking to finish what they played for last season, and that’s to win the Super Bowl. The Bengals made it to the big game last year only to be upset by the Los Angeles Rams. The Chiefs, however, have now been to the AFC Championship game five years in a row.

How to watch Bengals vs. Chiefs

  • Bengals vs. Chiefs date: Sunday, Jan. 29
  • Bengals vs. Chiefs time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Bengals vs. Chiefs TV channel: CBS
  • Bengals vs. Chiefs streaming: Paramount+(try free for 30 days with promo code PLAYOFFS)

Caesars Sportsbook lists Cincinnati as a 1.5-point favorite in the latest Bengals vs. Chiefs odds, and the over/under for total points is 46.5.

Why the Bengals will win?

The additions of La’el Collins and Alex Cappa have proved to be huge dividends for the Bengals’ offensive line. Heading into the offseason, protecting Joe Burrow was the biggest need, and they got more than that in those two additions. Other key additions made by the Bengals include Hayden Hurst and Cam Taylor-Britt. The Bengals are coming off their rematch with the Buffalo Bills. In the second round, just four weeks later, the Bengals took care of business both offensively and defensively.

1. Repeat Success

As mentioned above the Bengals were in this same spot last year. Now they are looking to become the first-ever NFL team to make it to back-to-back Super Bowls without being a top-two seed. Now, Burrow is coming off a successful week in which he went 23/36 with 242 yards and two touchdowns. He had six carries for 31 yards. Burrow wasn’t the only player who had a good week offensively. Joe Mixon carried the ball 20 times for a total of 105 yards, crossing the endzone once.

2. Make Kansas City Run

The Chiefs have an MVP candidate at QB in Patrick Mahomes, granted he played hurt in the second half, but Mahomes didn’t play his best in the KC win over Jacksonville. In that contest, the Chiefs combined for 30 carries and 144 yards and no touchdowns. A majority of those carries and yards came from Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon. Though, if the Bengals can force the Chiefs to run as they did the Bills, then they’ll be in a good position to win. The Bengals in fact have been forcing a lot of teams to run this year, as they’ve only allowed 17 passing touchdowns all season. Shutting down Travis Kelce is no easy task, if the Bengals can shut down Kadarius Toney, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling that should force the run.

3. Protecting Burrow

Cincinnati will need their offensive line at full strength come this Sunday. The Chiefs have guys like Frank Clark, Carlos Dunlap, and Derrick Nnadi who will be looking to sack the Burrow behind the line of scrimmage. The rumors are that Cappa is improving. They also got some reinforcements before last week’s divisional matchup, though they weren’t ready. Now, they should be and Burrow will offensive line to hold off the pass rush.

Why the Chiefs will Win?

1. Chiefs’ Offense will overcome Bengals’ Defense

Mahomes’ passing skills have not only proved to have been beneficial to the Chiefs this season, but throughout his career. This year, the Chiefs rank first in touchdowns, yards, passing yards, passing touchdowns, total touchdowns, first downs, red zone attempts and red zone touchdowns.

The only question surrounding the KC Offense is… how much will Mahomes’ ankle injury impact his performance in the AFC Championship? If his ankle is not completely healthy the Chiefs may be in trouble, especially against the Bengals’ defense.

2. Motivation to do better than they did against the Jags

You better believe that the Chiefs are looking to play better. However, they only won by seven points, and Mahomes had less than 200 yards. Against the Cincinnati Bengals, Andy Reid will need his 27-year-old QB to be at his creative best. Throughout his career, Mahomes has always made something out of nothing with his shortstop-style sidearm sling.

3. Other Defensive members stepping up

The Chiefs do have the players mentioned above, they’ve also got an All-Pro defensive tackle in Chris Jones. Towards the tail end of the season, the rest of the defense followed suit. In weeks 14-18, the Chiefs’ defense has had an 81.1 QB rating against, 60.9% completion, 9-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, 19 sacks, 181.8 pass yards per game and 5.6 yards per attempt.

For a defense that was looking mediocre through the first 13 weeks, those are impressive numbers. Reid will look to get the same production from his team in the AFC Championship.

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