An entire season has come down to this for the AFC. No one expected the Cincinnati Bengals to be returning to the AFC Championship Game after they started the year 0-2, which may as well have been a kiss of death after losing a Super Bowl the previous season.
The Kansas City Chiefs also weren’t the heavy AFC favorite they’d been in prior years. They had an offseason where they lost wide receiver Tyreek Hill, while the rest of the AFC West supposedly improved, and the Buffalo Bills became the Super Bowl favorite after their big offseason.
We have now seen an MVP-worthy season from Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes, where they both overcame several hurdles to be one game away from the Super Bowl yet again.
These teams are very familiar with each other, as Cincinnati has defeated Kansas City three-straight times (including last year’s AFC Championship Game). Ever since head coach Zac Taylor and Burrow have gotten it put together in the NFL, this matchup has gone their way.
Now with Mahomes dealing with a high ankle sprain that had him hopping around against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, will the Bengals’ streak stretch to four straight? Mahomes is practicing this week, and all indications are he’ll play Sunday.
These two teams are here for a reason. Even on one foot, Mahomes is still dangerous enough to make a defense bring its A+ game to have any hope of winning. The Chiefs can also lean on the running game with rookie Isiah Pacheco and veteran Jerick McKinnon, and it may add Clyde Edwards-Helaire this week.
However, the biggest thing that will decide this game is if Kansas City can slow down Burrow and this offense. The Buffalo Bills just could not really get anything going to slow down the offense, and if the Chiefs follow that trend, this could turn into a shootout that’s decided by who has the ball last.
Cincinnati Bengals (14-4) No. 3 seed at Kansas City Chiefs (15-3) No. 1 seed
Date/Time: Jan. 29th, 2022 at 6:30 pm ET
Location: Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO
TV Channel: The game will air on CBS. In the Bengals’ home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton, and WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington.
Announcers: Jim Nantz and Tony Romo are calling the game.
Radio Broadcast: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (1530), and WEBN-FM (102.7).
Broadcasters: Dan Hoard and Dave Lapham
SB Nation Chiefs site: Arrowhead Pride
Weather: Overcast in the mid-teens/low 20s (will feel like single digits) with a 0% chance of precipitation, per NFL weather. There will be 10-11 mph winds.
Odds: The Bengals are currently 1-point favorites after opening as underdogs on the road, via DraftKings Sportsbook.