The Annual Arrowhead invitational will kick off on Sunday night.
The Chiefs will host yet another AFC Championship game. Patrick Mahomes has hosted the game all five years since he became the starter back in 2018. This one has a different storyline to it because the Bengals are creating a mile-long list of receipts the Chiefs are eager to put an end to.
Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton called the Chiefs’ home stadium “Burrowhead”. This occurred right after the Bengals beat the Bills during last week’s divisional round game. Another Bengals corner Eli Apple has spent time endlessly talking trash.
Trash talking leaves out much of the context of the last three times the Chiefs and Bengals have faced off. Heading into the fourth quarter of all three games the Chiefs had at least a touchdown lead.
In the regular season game back in 2021 the Chiefs had an 18 point lead. In last year’s AFC Championship game, the Chiefs were up by 14 and in the game that occurred earlier in the year, the Chiefs were up by seven.
The update on Patrick Mahomes’ high ankle sprain injury is that he continues to get better. During the open media portion of the Chiefs’ Paractice throughout the week, Mahomes has been seen jogging, throwing the ball with accuracy, and multi-step dropback throws.
While it’s not reasonable to believe Mahomes will be 100% after suffering this injury last Saturday all of the positive news coming out of Arrowhead points to him being able to run the Chiefs’ offense.
The Chiefs are not the only team dealing with injuries. The Bengals are once again going into a game with three backup offensive linemen. Joe Burrow has averaged 2.5 seconds per throw this year. That is one of the fastest times in the NFL. This quick time to throw will have benefited him with such a lackluster offensive line.
The Bengals have run a lot of it, slants, and post routes. All of these routes are time-based. The Bengals can run these routes because they have a ton of talent at the wide receiver position. Ja’mar Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd is one of the best trio of ball catchers in the NFL.
If the Chiefs can take away the middle of the field the Bengals will have a more difficult time and even throw the Bengals off their timing routes. This can give the Chiefs’ defensive line more time to get to Burrow.
Currently, the Chiefs have one of the best guys to get after the QB. Frank Clark is one of the best all-time in the playoffs. Clark is currently fourth all-time in playoff sacks; his 12 sacks are only a half-sack behind Terrell Suggs for the third spot.
The combo of Clark, Chris Jones, Carlos Dunlap, and the other Chiefs defensive lineman should be able to wreak havoc on the Bengals’ offensive lineman.
One X-factor in this game is going to be Kadarius Toney. Last time the Chiefs faced the Bengals they were able to remove the middle of the field with their defensive scheme. The Bengals rotated their safeties down 10-12 yards off the line of scrimmage instead of 20 yards back. This removed a lot of the route concepts that Travis Kelce excels at. Kelce is able to get a lot of his yards after the catch. This defense limits yards after the catch. However, this scheme leaves your defense open to deep throws and extreme speed.
Kadarius Toney’s ability to zoom by defenders and avoid contact will allow him to get the Chiefs in the better second or third-down situations. Toney has been used on jet sweeps, wide receiver screens and the pop passes that get him out into space and let Toney use his superior athleticism to beat defenses.