With this matchup being played at Kansas City, the Chiefs enter the game as seven-point favorites via DraftKings Sportsbook.
So, we caught up with Tom Childs of Arrowhead Pride to get his take on this rematch between two of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL today.
Patrick Judis: This will be the fourth straight AFC Championship hosted in Kansas City. How much of an advantage do you think that is normally and is it more of one against a team going to their first since the turn of the century?
Tom Childs: The Arrowhead playoff advantage with Mahomes and Reid at the helm is a real thing. I’m sure you’ve seen some stats flying around this week but Mahomes has been a juggernaut at home in postseason play.
It’s not just the QB that turns up big come playoff time — the crowd show up in a big way too. I don’t know what it is specifically about playoff football but for whatever reason, it seems to add about 30 more decibels to the crowd noise (I’m merely speculating there of course). It was on show against the Bills — the crowd noise was insane.
For many Bengals players, this will be the first time they’ve played in the loudest stadium in the NFL. While some players will undoubtedly be able to handle it, I am hoping that it does get to some of the lesser experienced members of the Bengals team — especially when coupled with the nerves of playing the AFC Championship game.
PJ: This is your opportunity to gush about Patrick Mahomes. Doing what he has done the past few seasons and especially having that epic ending last week it is obvious he is great, but what are some of the specific things that make him great?
TC: Excuse me while I unravel my scroll...
We’ve all watched the guy over the last 4 seasons. What he has been doing is historic. Whether it’s highlights, comebacks, stats etc. the man literally does it all. Some quarterbacks are good in some of these areas. Mahomes excels in all of them.
The thing I really don’t understand is the Mahomes fatigue that is settling in amongst the national media. I get that talking heads feel like they need to change things up constantly by propping up the new rival quarterback, but it seems crazy that any other young quarterback can have a good stretch of 4, maybe 5 games and the ‘experts’ are so eager to put the said quarterback on the same pedestal as Mahomes.
Patrick has been doing this for 4 seasons, not 4 games.
PJ: Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase scorched the Chiefs defense the last time around in Week 17. How do you foresee this defense stopping that from happening this time around?
TC: By not leaving Charvarius Ward on an island? By not blitzing on 3rd and 27? By not getting too handsy? By not taking bad angles on tackles?
The number of mistakes the Chiefs defense made in that week 17 matchup was highly infuriating. For sure, the Bengals absolutely deserved their victory but Spags couldn’t have made it any easier for them. I thought it was a Bob Sutton led defense for a second there.
Although I was furious at the time, I am seeing the Bengals victory as a blessing in disguise. Maybe this time Spags will rely on his front four to get home against the terrible Bengals offensive line? Maybe he will give help to your outside corners.
There is no possible way that the Chiefs defense can defend Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense that badly again, right?
PJ: Everyone is well acquainted with household names like Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Who are some of the other guys on offense who could change the course of this game?
TC: Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle have recently started having more and more of a positive effect on this offense. I talked about a blessing in disguise in the previous question, but I feel like the Chiefs received another when Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were out (partially out in Tyreek’s case) with Covid against the Steelers in week 16.
Their absence forced the Chiefs to push the ball to some of the lesser-known guys — and thankfully they stepped up. The show of confidence in the likes of Hardman and Pringle has paid huge dividends. Since then both Pringle and Hardman have continued to make plays for the Chiefs in big spots.
Any contribution from any players other than Kelce and Hill is most welcome.
PJ: What is your prediction for this one?
TC: There are so many factors in this one that is making it almost impossible for me not to predict a Chiefs win.
It’s hard to beat the Chiefs twice in a season — experience — Arrowhead — Mahomes and Reid
All of the above and more are not reasons for me to slight the Bengals. They’re just reasons for me to back the Chiefs.
I have in fact thoroughly enjoyed watching the Bengals and their time will undoubtedly come. I just don’t see it happening this year against the particular Chiefs team in this particular game. Especially after what we saw last weekend.
PS The Bengals white jersey is a thing of beauty, and it belongs in The Louvre.
Thanks again to Tom Childs for taking the time to answer our questions. You can check out more of his work and Chiefs coverage at Arrowhead Pride.