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AFC Championship game Bengals vs Chiefs: Position by Position, who has the advantage

Publish Date: 01/27/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

AFC Championship game

Kansas City will host the Super Bowl for the fifth consecutive season. The Bengals¬†will attempt to stop the¬†Chiefs again, just like they did last season. While Mahomes is recovering from an ankle injury,¬†Joe Burrow has his team fresh from a win over the Bills. This makes Sunday’s expected rematch a real tossup for the oddsmakers. Anytime the two best quarterbacks in the game matchup it’s bound to be an explosive evening.

Quarterback

Bengals: Joe Burrow

Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes

Talk about a matchup!¬†Mahomes is a veteran with five consecutive AFC titles and two Super Bowl appearances.¬†Mahomes is also better at off-script acrobatics. He sets the standard for big-play artists in and out of structures.¬†His mobility is a concern due to his ankle injury.¬†Burrow is a proven winner against K.C.¬†Burrow’s firepower is evident with a 3-0 record against Mahomes.¬†He is quickly establishing himself as the¬†Tom Brady of this generation with his near-flawless vision. These are the two best in the game, but Burrow has been elite in crunch time, and I think he is a slightly better quarterback.

Advantage: Bengals

Video: Joe Burrow Best Highlights of 2022-23 Season

Joe Burrow Best Highlights of 2022-23 Season

Running Back

Bengals: Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine

Chiefs: Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon

Mixon is the most traditional ball carrier in the group. His explosive running against the Bills offsets any worries that may have been brewing over a slow-going stretch run for the Bengals running game. The Chiefs’ two-punch of Pacheco & McKinnon in space is likely equally dangerous. The latter, at his best, has been a good safety valve for Mahomes in this year’s season. This is a very close contest.

Advantage: Bengals

Video: Joe Mixon Scored 5 Touchdowns vs. Panthers!

Joe Mixon Scored 5 Touchdowns vs. Panthers!

WR

Bengals:¬†Ja’Marr Chase,¬†Tee Higgins,¬†Tyler Boyd

Chiefs: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Chase is a significant downfield threat when healthy, and Higgins, at 6-4, 220, remains a tremendously underrated player for his athleticism. The Chiefs have been better at this position than expected, but this position is a no-contest.

Advantage: Bengals

Video: Ja’Marr Chase 2022-23 Complete Highlights

Ja’Marr Chase 2022-23 Complete Highlights

Tight End

Bengals: Hayden Hurst

Chiefs: Travis Kelce

Hurst may be a reliable target in the short area for Burrow, but there’s no question. Kelce, 33, is still very much in his prime. He is fresh off a dominating performance against the Jaguars and has the potential to be named the Chiefs’ co-MVP with Mahomes. Few players can be so open in space as he is.

Advantage: Chiefs

Video: Travis Kelce Best Highlights of The Season so Far 2022

Travis Kelce Best Highlights of The Season so Far 2022

Offensive Line

Bengals: Jackson Carman, Cordell Volson, Ted Karras, Max Scharping, Hakeem Adeniji

Chiefs: Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Andrew Wylie

Left tackle¬†Jonah Williams is still recovering from a kneecap injury. Cincy will likely be out three regular starters for the second straight game. Alex Cappa,¬†La’el Collins are also out. The Chiefs have three all-pro-level blockers on the offensive line.

Advantage: Chiefs

Video: Film Study: Analyzing the Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Line vs Chargers

Film Study: Analyzing the Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Line vs Chargers

Defensive Tackle

Bengals: D.J. Reader, B.J. Hill

Chiefs: Chris Jones, Khalen Saunders

Reader (6-6, 335) and Jones (6-6.310) are the anchors of both contenders’ defensive fronts. While Hill and Saunders were solid running partners for the Chiefs and Bengals, those big boys command the most attention. Reader has been able to overcome injuries and continues to be a strong force against the run. Jones has 15.5 sacks and 17 tackles for losses, and 29 QB hits. This gives Jones a slight advantage as a pass rusher, but Reader has a huge advantage as a run stopper, and the Bengals are deeper at defensive tackle.

Advantage: Bengals

Video: Creed Humphrey vs DJ Reader (2022) | OL vs DL Matchup

Creed Humphrey vs DJ Reader (2022) | OL vs DL Matchup

DE/OLB

Bengals: Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, Joseph Ossai, Cameron Sample

Chiefs: Frank Clark, George Karlaftis, Carlos Dunlap, Mike Danna

After a quiet regular season, Clark seems to be making an impact.¬†Dunlap, an ex-Bengal player, also has playoff experience.¬†Although Cincy has fewer sacks this year than the other¬†NFL teams, it still has two more consistent and relentless edge rushers, Hendrickson and Hubbard. They’ve combined for 48 QB hits, including playoffs, which gives Lou Anarumo’s defense some bite. The Bengals are very deep at defensive tackle and with edge rushers.

Advantage: Bengals

Video: Sam Hubbard's former coach, school celebrate fumble return TD

Sam Hubbard’s former coach, school celebrate fumble return TD

Linebacker

Bengals: Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt

Chiefs: Nick Bolton, Willie Gay Jr.

Bolton, 22 years old, is a true star as the unofficial quarterback of the K.C defense. The Bengals’ physical push for another AFC title has been made possible by Wilson and Pratt. They’ve combined for 130+ tackles as well as 14 pass deflections, nine tackles for loss and nine tackles to help multi-level warriors. Wilson is one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

Advantage: Bengals

Video: LOGAN WILSON FORCES FUMBLE AND SAM HUBBARD TAKES IT BACK FOR TD

LOGAN WILSON FORCES FUMBLE AND SAM HUBBARD TAKES IT BACK FOR TD

Cornerback

Bengals: Eli Apple, Cam Taylor-Britt, Mike Hilton

Chiefs:¬†L’Jarius Sneed,¬†Trent McDuffie,¬†Jaylen Watson

Hilton’s versatility and physicality frequently carry Cincy’s coverage unit.¬† Sneed, in K.C., has been gradually elevating his game as a shadow to No. 1 wideouts, staying close to the ball (11 pass defenses, three INTs), and young players like McDuffie or Watson had generally held their own when they were asked. Britt has been a pleasant surprise for the Bengals and the enigmatic Apple has played well in the playoffs.

Advantage: Chiefs

Video: Christian Kirk vs L'Jarius Sneed (2022-23 Divisional) | WR vs CB Matchup

Christian Kirk vs L’Jarius Sneed (2022-23 Divisional) | WR vs CB Matchup

Safety

Bengals: Vonn Bell, Jessie Bates

Chiefs: Justin Reid, Juan Thornhill

You could swap any of these starters and get the same results. Bates has joined forces with Bell, making eight picks in Cincy. Reid and Thornhill, on the other hand, have been more prominent during the Chiefs secondary upswing. They combined for 150+ tackles, six tackles for loss, and six QB hits.

Advantage: Bengals

Video: Vonn Bell Mic'd Up at Tampa Bay

Vonn Bell Mic’d Up at Tampa Bay

Special Teams

Bengals: Evan McPherson (K), Drue Chrisman (P)

Chiefs: Harrison Butker (K), Tommy Townsend (P)

McPherson’s performance has been less than in 2021, mainly on extra points. However, he’s been flawless on 50+ yard field goals. Butker has dramatically dropped his field goal conversion rate, which is a record low at 75%, due to injuries. He hit two 50-yarders against Jaguars, and Townsend is one of the best punters in the game, averaging over 50 yards per kick. Chrisman is also solid, with almost half his kicks putting opponents inside their 20.

Advantage: Bengals

Video: Evan McPherson sends the Bengals to the Super Bowl vs the Chiefs!!!

Evan McPherson sends the Bengals to the Super Bowl vs the Chiefs!!!

Coaching

Bengals: Zac Taylor (HC), Brian Callahan (OC), Lou Anarumo (DC)

Chiefs: Andy Reid (HC), Eric Bieniemy (OC), Steve Spagnuolo (DC)

The Bengals are better at both coordinator spots, and that is especially true at defensive coordinator. The Bengals have been the best second-half team in the NFL over the last two years, and their adjustments on the run are impressive.

Advantage: Bengals

Video: Lou Anarumo | Behind The Stripes

Lou Anarumo | Behind The Stripes

 

Final Verdict

Bengals advantages 9

Chiefs advantages 3

9-3 would mean this game will be a blowout? No, I don’t think it will, as in most of the advantages in this game, the teams are so close that it is hard to decide. Overall the Bengals have the more complete roster, but the overall advantage is not overwhelming.

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