The Cincinnati Bengals are playing some of their best football of the season in these playoffs. This weekend, they look to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship to advance to the franchise’s third Super Bowl. At the beginning of the NFL season, many pundits in league circles had the Bengals winning between four and eight games. Well, this team has blown almost every expectation ascribed to them out of the water in this magical playoff run. They have a large task ahead of them as they look to complete the season sweep and take the crown from the reigning AFC Champion Chiefs. In the first matchup on January 2nd, the Bengals were victorious 34-31. Quarterback Joe Burrow and running mate Ja’Marr Chase stole the show with stellar performances that, then, clinched the division for Cincinnati. Both teams are playing at even higher levels now compared to just four weeks ago. Let’s look at some keys to victory for the Bengals to reach Super Bowl LVI.
Cincinnati Bengals Keys to Victory Against the Kansas City Chiefs
Make Them Chase
In that January game, Chase set the rookie receiving record with 266 yards and three touchdowns. While this is unlikely to happen again, the Bengals will need another solid performance from the rookie if they hope to win. It’s probably a good sign that Burrow and Chase continue to demolish defensive backs and the record books.
Joe Burrow has 1,654 Pass yards to Ja’Marr Chase, including playoffs, the most by a QB-receiver duo, both 25 or younger, entering a Conference Championship.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 25, 2022
The Bengals will need big games from Burrow and Chase to beat the Chiefs for a second time with the stakes magnified even higher. If Cover 2 defense is the play, expect the Bengals to get creative in getting Chase the ball in space, much like last week against the Tennessee Titans.
Control the Clock
Limiting possessions against Patrick Mahomes and the high octane Chiefs offense is crucial if you want to win. The Bengals will need a strong performance from running back Joe Mixon in chewing up the clock and sustaining drives. This is also something Cincinnati did quite well in the regular season contest. If the Bengals can effectively run the ball, this really opens up the passing attack and may also keep the deafening crowd noise at Arrowhead subdued. In several games this season, Mixon has done just enough to keep other teams off balance in the running game. Head coach Zac Taylor will continue to run the ball throughout the game even if it’s not completely successful in the first half of games. This confidence in your playcalling and star player in Mixon was on full display last week.
BIG STEPPIN pic.twitter.com/iyAoQHWgh0
— ⚡️Primetime!!!⚡️ (@Joe_MainMixon) January 24, 2022
The final key to defeating the Chiefs is getting consistent pressure on Mahomes. The biggest factor that led to victory the first go-round was the Bengals getting just enough pressure on Mahomes and only giving up three points in the second half. Mahomes was limited to a season-low 259 yards passing on just 35 attempts. The Bengals did a fantastic job defensively in this matchup and will need another robust performance from D.J. Reader and that front four as well as pressure off the edge from Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson. When you have surpassed expectations all season long, it gives you the belief you can beat anyone. This team has earned the belief that went from “why not us” to “it is us.” To reach Super Bowl LVI, you need to step up and beat the perennial best. What better time to rule the AFC than right now? These hungry tigers are ready!
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