When people discuss if history repeats itself, they do not have to look any further than last week when the (7-4) Cincinnati Bengals took care of business in Nashville, defeating the (7-4) Tennessee Titans for the third time in a row. The Stripes now hope to have another repeat as they take on the (9-2) Kansas City Chiefs in the Jungle at 4:25 pm on Sunday.
Chiefs fans were stunned last year when the Bengals defeated them at Arrowhead in the AFC Championship game with a 27-24 overtime win. This loss marked the second defeat for the Chiefs in less than a month against the Bengals last season. Check out the top Football odds for betting on the Bengals/Chiefs!
Both sides have already been very vocal on social media about wanting to win this game. The Chief’s new safety Justin Reid talked to the press earlier in the week. He seemed confused about the Bengals players when talking about this revenge game.
Later he tried to clear it up by posting on Twitter, “I meant Hayden Hurst for the man matchups. Nonetheless, any and everyone is still getting locked up.” Bengal’s top receiver Ja’Marr Chase chimed in by responding, “Let’s put some money on it big time.” I expect no less than a hard-hitting, explosive kind of war between two playoff contenders.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference
Bengal’s quarterback Joe Burrow showed a lot of grit in the two games with the Chiefs last season; even when he falls behind early, he still has the skills and talent to win the big games. He is proving to Kansas City that it is not over until the game ends.
This season, the offensive line has improved while keeping the pressure off of him, allowing Burrow to feel more comfortable running his offense; in return, he has spread the ball to everyone.
If Burrow can change the narrative and come out the gate with a fast start, it would put pressure on Mahome to counter, which could lead to turnovers. Joey Franchise will need to take advantage of the home crowd’s energy as he did in the Miami Dolphins game while keeping the momentum on his side.
It’s no secret that the Chief’s Chris Jones is their best defensive player up front and can wreck a game in a heartbeat. He has 10 sacks for the season and has had plenty of time to sit back and think about this highly anticipated revenge game.
The Bengals offensive interior of Ted Karras (Center), Alex Cappa (Right Guard), and a rookie (Left Guard) will have their hands full as they try and limit Jones’s production.
The Chief’s rookie George Karlaftis was a highly-rated draft prospect from Purdue University. With his relentless motor and strength to make an impact, he has yet to be consistent against the run. He looks overwhelmed at times which is good news for left tackle Jonah Williams.
Remember former Bengal’s pass rusher Carlos Dunlap? Now with the Chiefs, he is still ranked second as the Bengal’s all-time sack leader. Stripes left tackle La’el Collins will have the task of matching up with him. Although Dunlap has seen limited playing time, it will be something to keep an eye on.
The Bengals receiving corps will face a better Chiefs secondary than last season. Some say that the chiefs had the Bengals in mind when they upgraded their secondary to match up with them. Still, this will be a tall task for Kansas City. With all the talking on social media, expect penalties and hard hits. Check out the top football betting strategies.
The Chiefs selected cornerback Trent Mcduffie in the first round to improve the secondary. He will be faced with one of the best-receiving trios in the NFL, which could once again present opportunities for a highly explosive offense.
This week’s big news in Cincinnati is the possible return of top receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Last week, I spoke too soon about Chase playing, as he decided to sit out last minute against the Titans. So if Chase plays as expected, then the Chiefs will have to account for him. Chase can be pretty effective, whether limited playing time or is used as a decoy plan on him making a play.
Burrow likes to spread the ball around, so if Chase gets doubled up, look for Tee Higgins to have another big day. Higgins had seven catches for 114 yards last week and thrived in these types of big games. Hence lets us not forget about Tyler Boyd and the impact he can make over the middle of the field.
Tight end Hayden Hurst made it known that he was not happy about the comments about him. These comments could be the motivating factor used to have a big day. If Burrow is pressured, we’ll see Burrow dumping it off more to Hurst. This could be a 50-plus game and a few touchdowns in the red zone for a player who absolutely loves his role in this offense.
Bengal’s running back, Joe Mixon, may or may not be back for this game. If he is, look for him to rotate out of the backfield with Samaje Perrine. Together they are a threat whether running the ball or catching out of the backfield. Perrine’s numbers have been impressive since filling in for Mixon, gaining 58 yards on the ground and another 35 through the air last week against the Titans. If the running game gets going early, the Chiefs must pick their poison when stopping Burrow and company.
Standing in the way of the Bengal’s run game is linebacker Nick Bolton. He must be dealt with if the Stripes are to establish a strong running game. He has 106 tackles, four quarterback hits, two sacks, and one forced fumble and has proven he can do it all wherever he is on the field.
With all the talk about these two anticipated elite quarterbacks, Mahomes will be looking to create distance with Burrow in this competition. With Mahomes at quarterback, the Chiefs are 8-1 in regular season games when facing teams that beat them in the previous season.
Mahomes leading receiver from last year, Tyreek Hill, is now with the Dolphins; he has changed his game around spreading the ball around rather than with one receiver. Free agent and former Steeler JuJu Smith-Shuster has somewhat filled that void. Remember the history of Smith-Shuster and Bengal’s safety Vonn Bell? Bell rang Smith-Shuster bell (No pun intended) after he danced on the Bengals logo in the middle of the field when he played for the Steelers.
With Chief’s top receivers Kadarius Toney out for this game and Mecole Hardman out on (I.R.), they will rely more on Marquez Valdes-Scantling and speedster rookie Sky Moore to pick up yards. Bengal’s cornerbacks Eli Apple and rookie Cam Taylor-Britt have played excellent since top cornerback Chidobe Awuzie went on (I.R.) for the season. They will be tested offended as Mahomes likes to throw more short passes now that Hill has left.
When talking about the success of Kansas City, you can’t speak about Mahomes without talking about premier tight end Travis Kelce. He can make impact plays when called on, so your only hope is to contain him. Bengal’s Tre Flowers is one of the more prominent corners in the league, and I had the task of following him last year. Flowers only allowed one catch for 11 yards in the AFC title game and is hoping to have the same results.
Cincinnati’s D.J. Reader returned from injury last week to help contain Titan’s running around Derick Henry to just 38 yards. This week he will need to stop running back Isiah Pacheco, known for hitting gaps with power. Both linebackers Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt will need to continue with their outstanding play while taking away the running game.
Like last week’s game, field position and a Bengal’s fast start will matter. Whoever wins the turnover battle will likely walk away with the win while distancing themselves from the rest of the AFC teams.
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