AFC Championship Preview
When- January 29, 5:30 PM, FOX
Where- GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Cincinnati- 3 Seed (AFC North)
Strength of Schedule- 5 out of 32
Kansas City- 1 Seed (AFC West)
Strength of Schedule- 25 out of 32
Why Cincinnati will win- The Bengals enter Sunday’s matchup coming off their most impressive performance of the year dominating the Bills on the road from start to finish. The offense, which was missing 3 starters on the O-line, put up 172 yards rushing including 105 from RB Joe Mixon. More importantly the injury-depleted O-line, which has ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in sacks allowed, surrendered just one against Buffalo. QB Joe Burrow continued his sensational postseason play completing 23 of 36 passes for 242 yards and 2 TD’s. Can and will Patrick Mahomes be Patrick Mahomes coming off a sprained ankle last week? It seems unlikely.
Why Kansas City will win- This is not the same Bengals defense that went into Arrowhead last January and held Mahomes and Kansas City’s offense to just 3 points in the second half en route to 27-24 OT victory. The pass rush has fallen off significantly generating only 1.8 sacks per game which is down from 2.5 per game last season. The inability to get pressure on opposing QB’s has resulted in the secondary surrendering 229.8 yards per game ranking 24th in the NFL. The Chiefs pass rush, which has 57 sacks on the year, will look to add to that total against a banged up and vulnerable Cincinnati O-line.
Matchup to Watch- Kansas City’s pass rush vs Cincinnati’s O-line. The Bengals depleted O-line certainly passed the test last week. The Bills, however, were missing Von Miller. This week will be a much greater challenge against one of the league’s best pass rushing units led by DT Chris Jones who has 15.5 sacks on the year.
Eye Test Analytics Predicted Outcome- Kansas City by 2.91 points