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Predicting The AFC Championship Game: Which Offense Will Shine Brighter?

The NFL Conference Championship Weekend is here after what has been an exciting postseason so far. Only four teams remain, but just two can punch their ticket to Super Bowl 57 in Phoenix, Arizona. All four teams were in the Super Bowl within the past five years and three of the teams made the conference championship last season.

In last week’s divisional round predictions, we went 4-0 picking the games. This Sunday’s matchups get even more competitive making it difficult to pick, but let’s get right into the AFC Championship.

The Kansas City Chiefs finished the year tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for most wins in the NFL. The Chiefs clinched the first round bye for having the best win percentage in the AFC before defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round. Cincinnati finished the season with a 12-4 record, defeated AFC North rival Baltimore, before shutting down Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills last week.

AFC Championship: Cincinnati Bengals At Kansas City Chiefs

The Cincinnati Bengals started the season 0-2 following their loss to the Los Angeles Rams in last year’s Super Bowl. However, the team finished the year winning their final eight games (Week 17 against the Bills ended in a no-contest). Quarterback Joe Burrow, an MVP finalist, is second only to Patrick Mahomes with 35 touchdown passes. Burrow has an elite wide receiver duo with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins to throw the ball too. Tight end Tyler Boyd is also a player to watch especially on third downs.

Kansas City brings in the number one pass offense in the NFL. Likely MVP, QB Patrick Mahomes leads the league with 5,250 passing yards and 41 touchdown passes compared to just 12 interceptions. His passer rating is second just behind Tua Tagovailoa. The Chiefs have done all this after the surprise trade of receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins this past offseason. Mahomes has done an excellent job spreading the ball around but relies on tight end Travis Kelce the most. Kelce leads all tight ends with 1,338 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

Unfortunately, for Kansas City, Mahomes is battling a high ankle sprain he suffered in the win over Jacksonville last week. Though he came back in the game, his mobility and athleticism were affected. Mahomes has practiced this week and should play on Sunday, but it will be difficult imagine him putting up the numbers we are used to, if he is not 100%.

The Chiefs will need to find a way to slow down Joe Burrow and the Bengals if they want to win this game. Offensively they will need Mahomes to be a pocket-passer getting the ball out quickly if he is not up to speed. The running game with Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon will also need to be effective.

Did You Know?

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has only been a starter for five seasons, but has made the AFC Championship game in all five of them. He is 2-2 in the conference championship with one of the wins resulting in the Chiefs’ second-ever Super Bowl Championship in the 2019/2020 NFL season.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals are the only remaining team without a ring. The franchise is 0-3 all-time with narrowly losing to the Rams last year in the Super Bowl.

The Prediction

Bengals 27 Chiefs 20

Joe Burrow is 3-0 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. This includes last year’s AFC Championship game and Week 13 of this season where Cincinnati edged Kansas City 27-24 on both occasions. Burrow averages 327 yards per game and has eight career touchdowns with just one interception in his three games against the Chiefs. Unless Mahomes is at 100%, it will be a tough task defeating one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now.

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