For what it’s worth, Mathieu tweeted this out shortly after Fescoe’s report.
I got this!— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) January 25, 2022
So for now, it appears the Chiefs defense will be at or close to full strength for the AFC Championship.
After edging the Chiefs 34-31 in Week 17, the Bengals will leave the friendly confines of Paul Brown Stadium for Round 2, which takes place at Arrowhead Stadium for the AFC Championship.
Another potentially big difference for the second meeting is a pair of significant injuries in Kansas City’s secondary.
The first is cornerback Rashad Fenton, who’s having a breakout third season in the NFL after being a sixth-round pick in the 2019 draft. He’s missed the Chiefs’ first two playoff games due to a lingering back injury and didn’t practice at all leading into the Divisional Round thriller with the Buffalo Bills.
In the first Bengals - Chiefs meeting, Fenton allowed just four catches for 64 yards with one pass deflection while primarily defending Tee Higgins, who finished with three catches for 64 yards on five targets. Fenton also had a team-high seven solo tackles.
With Kansas City likely to focus heavily on stopping Ja’Marr Chase in the second matchup after his historical outing in Week 17, not having Fenton on the other side to contain Higgins could be a game-changer.
Then you’ve got All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, who left Sunday’s win over the Bills with a concussion in the first quarter. Mathieu is one of the best safeties in football, so not having him would be a massive blow to the Chiefs defense, which we saw a bit of when they allowed Buffalo to rack up 36 points.
Mathieu also makes plays coming off the edge as a blitzer and pressured Joe Burrow several times in the first matchup. After what we saw from the Bengals’ offensive line at Tennessee, Kansas City having Mathieu would make life even harder for this patchwork unit.
As we saw with Trey Hendrickson, it’s far from impossible to clear concussion protocols within a week, but for now, Mathieu is highly questionable for Sunday.
For what it’s worth, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Mathieu is feeling good one day after suffering the concussion.
"He's still in the protocol and going through it, but he feels good. We'll see how that goes moving forward."— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) January 24, 2022
- Coach Reid on Tyrann Mathieu