AFC Championship: Bengals @ Chiefs Preview
For the second year in a row the Bengals will travel to Kansas City for the AFC Championship. The Chiefs were 14-3 through the season and after a first-round bye, defeated the Jaguars 27-20 to earn their trip here. The Bengals were 12-4, snagging their second AFC North title in a row and have defeated the Ravens and Bills to stamp their ticket.
This will be the fourth time we've seen these two AFC titans clash in the last two years, with the Bengals winning all three previous encounters by a total score of 88-79. Joe Burrow is averaging 327 yards and almost 3 touchdowns a game against the Chiefs during this span and seems poised to continue his form after a very impressive playoff performance thus far. Against the daunting Bills, Joe Burrow got a lot of help from his rushing game as well, carrying the ball for 172 yards and a touchdown.
Unfortunately for KC, Patrick Mahomes suffered a high ankle sprain last week against Jacksonville. Mahomes was noticeably limping after the game and was even seen in a walking boot in the days after. During the Chiefs' practice Wednesday and Thursday, Mahomes could be seen jogging and do agility drills with seemingly no hesitation however, so maybe the ankle injury isn't a problem?
That's unlikely; anyone who has gotten a high ankle sprain can tell you that the lingering pain lasts weeks and the possibility of reaggravating the injury or rolling the ankle is huge.
Mahomes will certainly be closely watched the entire game and will likely have trouble scrambling or getting out of the pocket as much as he normally does. That being said watch for the Bengals to bring a lot of middle pressure early in the game, forcing Mahomes to use his legs as much as possible and testing the ankle.
The Bengals seem to always sharpen up their arsenal this time of year and have made vast improvements from last year's run as well. The offensive line was a long time weakness for Cincy so they went and acquired three new starters over the offseason in C Ted Karras, OG Alex Cappa and RT La'el Collins and also drafted Cordell Volson whose ability to come off the bench and perform can not be understated.
This game has gone back and forth with the favorite but for the moment, Kansas City is a 1-point favorite. The news that Mahomes seems to be very close to healthy with his ankle tipped the scales back into the Chiefs' direction, but have no doubts that this game will be razor thin in the end.
Our prediction: Chiefs 30-Bengals 27
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Make sure to stay tuned as we continue coverage of the 2022 NFL Playoffs with tomrrow's NFC Championship Preview.