The AFC championship bout between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs offers the potential for another explosive fest at Arrowhead Stadium.
Anyone expecting the Chiefs to romp over the upstart Bengals must have forgotten about the battle between these two clubs just three weeks ago. Cincinnati overcame multiple 14-point deficits to beat K.C., 34-31, on a last-second Evan McPherson field goal.
Speaking before the Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said there wasn't an advantage to having played Kansas City recently.
"I think all that matters is our team has a lot of confidence right now and we believe that we belong," Taylor said Sunday, via the team's official website. "You know some of the guys made the comment that people have tried to put the underdog card on us. We don't subscribe to that. We believe that we're as good as any team in the NFL, and so whoever we play, we play. We'll have to go on the road and have a great game."
The Bengals are the only team to beat the Chiefs in the past 12 games. The win clinched the AFC North for Cincy and caused Kansas City to tumble out of the No. 1 seed.
Joe Burrow divebombed K.C. in Week 17, throwing for 446 yards and four touchdowns as Cincinnati overcame a 14-0 hole early in the game and a 28-14 deficit with under two minutes remaining in the first half. Ja'Marr Chase tortured the Chiefs that day, netting 11 catches for 266 yards and three TDs, the most yards in a single game by a rookie in NFL history. The game's biggest play came on third-and-27 when Burrow found Chase deep down the sideline for a 30-yard score to set up the game-winning field goal.
After allowing 28 first-half points, the underrated Bengals defense held Patrick Mahomes in check in the final two quarters, giving up just 50 passing yards and three points the rest of the way.
The rematch, this time at Arrowhead, will be a different beast. Mahomes is 4-1 in his career (including playoffs) versus teams he lost to previously that season; he's won his last four and has at least a 100 passer rating in all five games. The only defeat came in the 2018 AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots.
"It's playoff football. It's gloves off. It's a street fight," tight end C.J. Uzomah said. "You're saying we have tape on Kansas City. They have tape on us. You can say the exact same. That does not matter."
Following the Week 17 bout, Mahomes predicted a rematch, telling Burrow in the postgame handshake, "See y’all in the playoffs." Indeed they will, with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.