January 30, 3 pm ET, GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Cincinnati- 4 Seed (AFC North) 12-7 overall
Kansas City- 2 Seed (AFC West) 14-5 overall
Why Cincinnati will win-
The upstart Bengals find themselves 60 minutes away from their 1st Super Bowl appearance in 33 years after picking up the franchise’s 1st road playoff road win knocking off the Titans 19-16. Led by their ultra-confident second year QB Joe Burrow this young team has the belief they can go into Arrowhead and beat the 2 time defending AFC champions. Burrow was sacked 9 times against Tennessee but shouldn’t be under as much heat against a Chiefs pass rush that ranks 29th in the league in sacks. Kansas City’s star safety Tyrann Mathieu left the game against Buffalo with a concussion and his absence was definitely noticed for an already vulnerable secondary that has given up 252 yards per game this year. His status for Sunday’s game remains in question.
Why Kansas City will win-
There is something magical about Patrick Mahomes at home in the playoffs. The Chiefs superstar QB improved to 7-1 at home in the playoffs leading the team to a miraculous OT win over Buffalo. In 2 games so far this postseason Mahomes has completed 76% of his passes for 782 yards and 8 touchdowns. The stout Bengals D-line has depth issues due to injury and must face a Chiefs O-line that comes in 3rd in the NFL in sacks allowed. After missing 3 games due to injury Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a key factor in last week’s win against the Bills rushing for 60 yards on 7 carries. Mathieu returned to practice and getting cleared to play would be a big shot in the arm for the defense. CB Rashad Fenton (back) is expected to play.
Key to the Game-
Poise. Kansas City is making their 4th straight AFC Championship appearance. Will the young and inexperienced Bengals be able to keep their poise with so much on the line? The Chiefs have feasted off turning opponents over during their 11-1 run going back to early November. A few early mistakes by Cincinnati and things could turn ugly quick.
Eye Test Analytics Predicted Score- Kansas City by 5.73 points