Super Bowl LVII – Playoff 2: 29/01/2023, 11:30pm
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs go into an NFL-record fifth consecutive home AFC Championship Game knowing they need to overcome a Cincinnati Bengals side they have failed to beat in their last three attempts.
Sunday’s match-up (start time 11.30pm UK time) is a replay of last year’s title game, which the Joe Burrow-led Bengals took 27-24 in an overtime thriller.
Having also beaten them in each of the past two regular seasons, the Bengals are 3-0 against the Chiefs since drafting quarterback Burrow in 2020.
MVP-bound Patrick Mahomes is expected to start after suffering a high ankle sprain in the Chiefs’ 27-20 Divisional Round victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mahomes left last week’s game to receive x-rays but was able to return after one drive, albeit with reduced mobility.
Despite clear discomfort and a lack of ability to manoeuvre around the pocket, Mahomes was able to find tight-end Travis Kelce consistently en route to a second-half statline of 22-of-30 for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bengals were able to escape their Divisional Round match-up relatively unscathed, cruising to a 27-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the snow at Orchard Park.
Last year’s Super Bowl runners-up have now lost just one of their previous 13 games.
Zak Taylor’s men played a complete game on their way to felling pre-season Super Bowl favourites Buffalo, restricting the Bills offense to its lowest points tally of the season while combining for over 100 ground yards and two passing touchdowns on offense.
Despite running back Joe Mixon’s success in the Divisional Round, the Bengals may look to lean on their trio of superstar wide receivers against a Kansas City defense that has given up more passing touchdowns than any other this season.
A large factor in Kansas’ ability to counteract Cincinnati’s potent air attack will be the play of Chris Jones, who finished the regular season with 26 more pass rush wins than any other defensive tackle.
Along with Frank Clark and the rest of the Chiefs’ defensive line, Jones will look to take advantage of a banged-up Bengals o-line that ranked 31st in pass block win rate going into last week’s games.
With each of the last few match-ups between these powerhouses settled by three points, expect the AFC’s Super Bowl representative to be decided late in this one.
All eyes will be on whether Mahomes can rise above his high ankle sprain to exact revenge on the only team to have beaten him three times.
- The last five Chiefs vs Bengals games have all seen at least 50 points scored.
- In three games against the Chiefs over the past two seasons, Ja’Marr Chase has 29 targets, 24 receptions, 417 yards and four touchdowns.
- Mahomes has completed just 50% of his throws of 10+ air yards in his last three games against the Bengals.
- Kansas City is 7-11 against the spread this season, while Joe Burrow is 18-1 ATS in his last 19 games as favourite by less than seven points.
- Kansas City is 13-1 this season when rushing for 70+ yards, their only loss coming against Cincinnati.
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