As the NFC Championship wraps up, the action moves on to Kansas City for the Bengals and Chiefs. For this rematch of last year’s conference championship, the Chiefs are currently two-point favorites while the over/under sits at 47.5.
For the home side, the biggest worry in this game is the health of Patrick Mahomes. It’s almost certain that he won’t be at 100%, but if the ankle sprain he suffered last week is truly hindering his movement in and out of the pocket, the Chiefs could be in trouble. That being said, if anyone could find a way to pull out a win with this injury, it may be Patrick Mahomes.
In terms of picking up the slack on offence, there’s two or three players to really look out for. One of those guys is rookie Isiah Pacheco, who has given the ground game new life this year. Last week, he ran for 95 yards on just 12 carries against the Jags. The other, of course, is Travis Kelce. Kelce’s fourteen catches for less than 100 yards in last week’s win prove just how important he is in the short passing game. With Mahomes maybe not as mobile as usual, look for him to be getting quick throws out to his tight end a lot.
If you’re a Bengals fan, you want to see the ball in Joe Burrow’s hands as much as possible on Sunday. With Kansas City’s solid run defence looking to plug the holes and keep Joe Mixon from doing damage, the stage should be set for Burrow to attack the secondary. With weapons everywhere and one of the most talented arms in the league getting them the ball, the big concern for Cincinnati is the offensive line. If it can hold up and allow Burrow time to deliver, the Bengals should be able to move downfield against the Chiefs. Fortunately, Burrow has been dealing with a questionable line his whole career. Last year, the Bengals won a playoff game despite Burrow being sacked a record NINE times. Even if three backups are out there protecting him like last week, Burrow always seems to find a way.
Defensively, Cincinnati shouldn’t need to be perfect to win this game, but they’ll have to be good. With a very motivated and experienced combination of Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid on the other sideline, Sunday’s focus should be about limiting the Chiefs as opposed to stopping them altogether. If Cincinnati’s defensive line can get to Mahomes and force field goals instead of touchdowns, they should win this game. However, if it turns into an offensive shootout, there may not be a team in the league I’d take to beat Kansas City.
Bengals and Chiefs – The Pick
We’ve got another super tough game to pick here. The Chiefs may have home field advantage, but they’re taking on a quarterback they’ve never beaten. Mahomes may be good to go, but he probably won’t be 100%. For those reasons, we’ll take the Bengals to once again come out of Kansas City with a win in another close battle.
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