The Chiefs square off against the Bengals in the AFC Championship this coming Sunday. The game will be at Arrowhead Stadium and will decide who gets to go to the Super Bowl from the AFC. This is the 5th straight AFC Championship game the Chiefs have hosted, the only team to ever do so. Quite a feat, but I think what matters the most to Chiefs Kingdom is not once again making the AFC Championship, but potentially making another Super Bowl and shaking the demon known as the Joe Burrow-led Cincinatti Bengals. You see, the Chiefs are 0-3 against this Bengals squad. This will be the second time the Chiefs have ever faced the Bengals in postseason, and the Chiefs are bent on not making losing to this team a habit.
I will be frank, I am sick and tired of losing to this team already. I am sick of the comparisons between Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes. I am sick of people counting this team out because Mahomes suffered an injury, an injury that he has basically already healed from at first glance. I am sick of media pundits acting as if the Bengals already have this game won, and I am ESPECIALLY sick of the term "Burrowhead", referencing of course Arrowhead and Joe Burrow winning exactly one (1) game there due to completely uncharacteristic collapse. This Bengals team is overconfident, and we know how deadly that can be. This being said, do they have reason to be?
In short, and in my opinion, no, they don't, but that's simply my opinion. We need to look at everything, players, personnel, statistics, crowd factors, weather factors, everything to determine that. For now, let me summarize by offering up the key matchup points. For one, this is not the same Chiefs team the Bengals faced in week 13. This is a defense that has been forged by fire, and has improved leaps and bounds. The front seven is getting to the QB, defensive backs are defending without fouling, the offense is more in sync with one another, and overall it's a better team that has found their groove at exactly the right time. If it were not for the Mahomes injury, the Chiefs more than likely would have rolled the Jaguars, but even with a hobbled Mahomes this team was still able to beat a very good, very hot Jaguars squad. Speaking of that injury, that injury has only caused the players surrounding Mahomes to play harder, knowing that their quarterback is fighting through an injury that completely sidelined guys like Mac Jones, who suffered the same injury and came off the field screaming in agony. Finally, another factor I wanted to mention that works in favor of the Chiefs is that the Bengals offensive line is full of holes. Frank Clark is set to go against a guy making his 5th career start, if that tells you anything. The Bengals look different too, and although they were able to handle the Buffalo Bills, that's a Buffalo Bills squad that was beaten up pretty bad too and on a skid. They're beat up too, however, and going up against a front seven that can pulverize opposing offensive lines if they're on their A game could prove to be fatal for the Bengals. Set the spy, get in Burrow's face, and you won't have to worry about the big bad wide receivers the Bengals have in Chase and Higgins. Joe Mixon may prove to be an issue if you let him, however given how the Chiefs prepare for big time running backs in postseason (Derrick Henry, being the one I am thinking of) I expect this defense to be amply prepared. Offensively, keep the groove going. Protect Mahomes at all costs, keep the ball churning on the ground with Pacheco, medium gains in the passing game in order to open up the top, and continue to give space so Toney and Hardman run free (Mind you this is very well the game we see both of them on the field at the same time) and you could open up a whole world of hurt on a defense that is pretty average aside from a couple players that are a bit above average at their positions. As much as the Bengals want to say they're elite, Trey Hendrickson is fine, Sam Hubbard is merely the hometown kid you all love and is not a whole lot better than your average D-lineman, Jessie Bates isn't fast enough to keep up with the Chiefs' speed, and the corners are liabilities once you take their safety help away.
The Chiefs are a team that is fully healthy and hitting their stride, it's going to be a bit different than Buffalo, especially when you're playing at Arrowhead, and don't expect it to be a repeat of last year. This is a revenge game for the Chiefs and for this fanbase, and we've got quite a few on our side given the actions of certain Bengals players throughout the week. You can go after the Chiefs, they're the new big man on campus in the NFL much like the Patriots were, but going after Damar Hamlin and being a player that wins in such a dishonorable manner such as Eli Apple is something fanbases unite against. Buffoonery and immaturity out of a guy that has not at all earned the right to talk how he does only motivates teams, I wouldn't expect a buffoon like Apple to know that though. He doesn't seem to really understand social graces. If nothing else, make sure he, out of all the Bengals players, gets humbled come Sunday. He's an average at best corner that needs his safety help at all times, otherwise he's a liability. Exploit his naivety and the overconfidence of this team at least once, give Chris Jones his first postseason sack, and overall just win the dang game, and I will say it's the ideal victory for the Chiefs. This is entirely possible, and I firmly believe it can happen.
However, what do you believe? Are you confident in the Chiefs? What do you want to add to the list of factors regarding the upcoming game? Let me know in the comments below and on social media for a chance to be featured in the upcoming ScorchCast. The anticipation is ever-growing for Sunday, and hopefully it results in a Chiefs victory.
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