Bengals headed back to KC for rematch of AFC title game
CINCINNATI (14-4) at KANSAS CITY (15-3)
Sunday, 6:30 p.m. EST, CBS
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Bengals by 1 1/2.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bengals 13-5, Chiefs 6-11-1.
SERIES RECORD: Bengals lead 18-14.
LAST MEETING: Bengals beat Chiefs 27-24 on Dec. 4 in Cincinnati.
LAST WEEK: Bengals beat Bills 27-10; Chiefs beat Jaguars 27-20.
BENGALS OFFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (7), PASS (5), SCORING (29).
BENGALS DEFENSE: OVERALL (16), RUSH (7), PASS (23), SCORING (6).
CHIEFS OFFENSE: OVERALL (1), RUSH (20), PASS (1), SCORING (1)
CHIEFS DEFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (8), PASS (18), SCORING (16)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Bengals plus-6; Chiefs minus-3.
BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Joe Burrow is 3-0 against Chiefs counterpart Patrick Mahomes, including his comeback win in last year’s AFC title game. He’s coming off a season in which he set Bengals records for completions (414), pass attempts (606) and touchdown passes (35). He threw for 250 yards with two touchdowns and a pick in last year’s AFC championship game.
CHIEFS PLAYER TO WATCH: All eyes are on Mahomes, and more specifically his right ankle, which was sprained in last weekend’s divisional win over Jacksonville. Mahomes had X-rays during the game but returned to lead Kansas City to the eventual clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter. He had an MRI exam the following day that confirmed a high ankle sprain, but Mahomes and Chiefs coach Andy Reid insisted all week that he would play against the Bengals. The All-Pro quarterback has had perhaps his best season, throwing for a career-high 5,250 yards with 41 touchdown passes.
KEY MATCHUP: The Bengals’ fleet of wide receivers, led by Ja’Marr Chase, against the Kansas City defensive backfield, which regularly plays three rookie cornerbacks and a rookie safety. Chase had seven catches for 97 yards in the Bengals’ 27-24 win in December, while Tyler Boyd had four catches for 60 yards and Tee Higgins had three for 35 yards and a score.
INJURIES: Bengals OG Alex Cappa (ankle) and OT Jonah Williams (knee) missed practice this week while CB Tre Flowers (hamstring) and LB Joe Bachie (foot) were limited. Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman (pelvis) also was limited.
SERIES NOTES: The Bengals have won three straight against Kansas City, all by three points, with two of them being played in Cincinnati. The one played in Kansas City was last year’s AFC title game, when the Bengals rallied from an early 21-3 deficit to win 27-24 in overtime. That was the first postseason game played between the two former AFL rivals, who first met in Cincinnati’s inaugural season of 1968. Andy Reid is 1-4 against the Bengals, and Mahomes is 1-3, since the coach and quarterback joined the Chiefs. The Bengals won their most recent meeting, 27-24 in December.
STATS AND STUFF: This is the record fifth straight conference championship game hosted by Kansas City. The five consecutive appearances by the Chiefs are tied with Oakland (1973-77) and behind only the Patriots (2011-18) for the most in NFL history. ... The Bengals are making their fourth AFC championship appearance. ... Bengals RB Joe Mixon needs 43 yards rushing to pass Pete Johnson (5,421) for fourth in franchise history. ... Chase set the Bengals single-game record for yards receiving with 266 against Kansas City in a win on Jan. 2, 2022. ... Bengals K Evan McPherson was 4 for 4 on field goals and hit his only PAT try in last year’s AFC title game. ... Cincinnati ran for 172 yards in last week’s divisional win over Buffalo, the fourth-best postseason total in franchise history. ... Chiefs coach Andy Reid is tied with Tom Landry with 20 postseason wins. The only coach with more is the Patriots’ Bill Belichick (31). ... TE Travis Kelce and LS James Winchester set the Chiefs record last week with their 16th career playoff games. ... Kelce had 14 catches last week against Jacksonville, setting a Chiefs playoff record. The total was one off the NFL postseason record shared by the Saints’ Darren Sproles and the Patriots’ James White. ... Kelce has 1,389 yards receiving in the playoffs, tied with the retired Rob Gronkowski for third in NFL history. Kelce needs 53 yards to pass Julian Edelman for second behind Jerry Rice. ... Mahomes is 9-3 in the playoffs as an NFL starter. ... Mahomes needs three TD passes to pass Dan Marino (32) for eighth on the league’s career postseason list. ... Mahomes and Chiefs backup Chad Henne will become two of five QBs to be active for five consecutive conference championship games. Tom Brady, Ken Stabler and Daryle Lamonica are the others. ... Chiefs DE Frank Clark has 12 playoff sacks, tied with Reggie White for No. 4 on the career list since they became an official stat in 1982.
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