What to know
The Cincinnati Bengals knocked off the No. 1 seed on Saturday evening to kick off what ended up being a wild weekend in the NFL. We saw this matchup just a few weeks ago at Paul Brown Stadium. The good guys won in electric fashion, with Ja’Marr Chase going for over 260 yards receiving and three touchdowns and the stripes clinching the division when the final whistle blew.
Now, here we are, nearly a month later, and it’ll be the same matchup again, only this time it’ll be at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The Chiefs nearly fell to Buffalo but somehow, with just 13 seconds on the clock, Patrick Mahomes was able to get his team in field goal range to tie the game. From there, they won the game without the Bills touching the ball again. It was insanity. The Bengals know all about insanity as both playoff games have come down to the final play. They have one game standing in between them and the Super Bowl, and it’ll appropriately come against the reigning AFC champions.
Why can Bengals Cover
The Bengals became just the second team in NFL history to win a playoff game in which they allowed eight sacks or more. Despite second-year QB Joe Burrow being sacked a whopping nine times in Saturday afternoon’s Divisional Round contest, Cincinnati still managed to knock off the Tennessee Titans on an Evan McPherson field goal as time expired. In addition, Bengals received negative ratings in the draft for drafting a kicker in the 5th round. But he has proved to be a good pick.
When Burrow wasn’t running for his life, he was busy carving up the Titans secondary for nearly 350 yards passing. The problem is the offensive line in front of him or lack thereof. Those nine sacks came despite Tennessee primarily only rushing four defenders the entire game. Burrow’s splits against a blitz are much better than when opposing defenses only rush four.
While Cincinnati’s defensive secondary leaves a bit to be desired, the front seven has a pair of game-changing stars. Pass-rusher Trey Hendrickson, tackle D.J. Reader, and linebacker Logan Wilson had their fingerprints all over the unit’s turnaround this season. So perhaps the only chance the Bengals will have of slowing down the Chiefs’ attack is if they generate consistent pressure.
Why can Chiefs Cover
Patrick Mahomes might not be fully human. How on Earth he managed to get the Chiefs in field goal range down three with all of 13 seconds left in regulation will forever be one of life’s greatest mysteries. But, of course, Kansas City went on to win the overtime coin toss, and the rest is history. Mahomes dimed Travis Kelce for the game-winning touchdown on the very first possession. Bills Mafia can argue all they want about the NFL’s overtime rules, but the result was a loss in the divisional round.
With the win, the Chiefs are now set to become the first team in history to host the AFC Championship Game in four consecutive seasons. After struggling early on in the season, the offense has roared to life down the stretch. The 42 points scored in the Divisional Round win marked the sixth time in the last seven games that Kansas City has topped the 30-point threshold. But, of course, one of those came in the 34-31 loss at Cincinnati, a game in which Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce combined for only 65 yards receiving.