Key gamers and storylines to observe in Bengals vs. Chiefs AFC title sport

It’s one more date between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, this time within the AFC title sport.

In a rivalry that’s rapidly beginning to really feel like a divisional one, full with “Burrowhead” trash talk and bulletin-board comments from Chiefs defenders, Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes as soon as once more take heart stage.

But on this one, Mahomes enters with an ankle damage suffered within the divisional spherical and Burrow enters with a 3-0 mark in prior matchups thus far.

Whereas a lot of this sport will hinge on classes realized from these previous encounters, the sprinkles of innovation and adaptation and some x-factors will determine which workforce goes to the Tremendous Bowl.

The ankle and Cincinnati’s response

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All the eye has centered on the injured ankle of Patrick Mahomes. How is it actually? Will he be capable of plant nicely on that proper foot and make throws all around the subject? What about scramble and navigate pockets? These traditional off-platform and off-script throws at wild angles?

Possibly extra importantly, what about Lou Anarumo? Is he going to carry further warmth early to try it out? Will that get the Bengals burnt? Or do they simply do the standard and drop eight, which has confused Mahomes prior to now?

Bengals RBs and the center of the sphere

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Sure, Chiefs working backs are a giant focus too. However the larger factor right here is the center of the sphere for the Cincinnati offense. The Bengals completely abused Chiefs linebackers Willie Homosexual and Nick Bolton in protection through the common season assembly. With groups just like the Chiefs dropping thus far to stop the large play to wideouts, working backs and tight ends are likely to go wild over the center. A brief passing sport like that even emulates the working sport nicely. And on this occasion, it may make a Bengals offensive line beginning three backups a non-factor. Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine and tight ends must win their matchups in area beneath and break a number of tackles.

Hayden Hurst and Joe Mixon

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Hurst and Mixon — two guys who (technically) missed the common season win over the Chiefs. In Mixon’s place, Perine ran for 106 yards on a median of 5 yards per carry and caught six passes for 49 yards. Hurst caught two passes earlier than leaving early. They’ll each be main components of the gameplan on Sunday and will swing the sport. Hurst, notably, went restricted throughout Thursday’s apply with what was listed as a calf damage.

The OL vs. Chris Jones

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Chris Jones is a game-breaking participant. It hasn’t at all times proven in opposition to the Bengals, however the menace is at all times there. And now the Bengals line will begin three backups. Rookie Cordell Volson has been regular at left guard and can must be once more. Backup proper guard Max Scharping must have a powerful sport. And beginning heart Ted Karras, who gutted by a knee damage in Buffalo, must be his traditional self. Success within the working sport and quick passing sport will negate Jones if profitable too, however the line must have a better-than-expected exhibiting for the second week in a row.

Travis Kelce

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For no matter cause, the Jags simply saved letting Kelce break away final week and it burned them. However the Bengals restricted him to 4 catches for 56 yards within the common season and they’ll want an analogous exhibiting to face an opportunity. Tight-end stopper Tre Flowers appears like he’s good to go, in order that’s an enormous factor after he was battling an damage. First-rounder Dax Hill will get seems to be on this space too, as will linebackers. The seemingly technique is to double Kelce and drive slower-developing routes to receivers to win the sport for the Chiefs offense.

Isiah Pacheco and 13 personnel

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Isiah Pacheco has been on a roll these days and hit the Bengals for 67 yards and a rating on the bottom (4.7 common) in Week 13. With Mahomes hurting, the Chiefs will most likely depend on 13 personnel, that means Kelce as a wideout of types in heavy packages. That would drive the Bengals away from dropping eight into protection as a result of they want extra linebackers on the sphere to cease the run. The Chiefs have been downright lethal in 13 personnel, so the Bengals might want to have a counter prepared.

Joe Burrow

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Who else? Burrow’s taken one other beautiful step in his growth, at occasions simply enjoying together with his meals as he manipulates defenders together with his eyes and assaults defenses that used to fluster him with ease. He not often throws interceptable passes, at all times appears to make the fitting learn and is oddly correct. He’s taking few sacks deliberately, in search of the large splash much less and transferring the ball extra effectively — he’s even dramatically boosted the variety of scramble seems to be for giant beneficial properties and chain-movers.

So sure, Burrow will search for a number of pictures to Ja’Marr Chase, particularly when he’s blitzed. However he’ll additionally take the quick stuff and make the Chiefs pay for choices. So long as he’s analyzing what the Chiefs are doing on the fly nicely once more, he can overcome the road and the whole lot else, simply as he did in Buffalo.

The psychological edge

The above says all of it. The Bengals are 3-0 with Burrow in opposition to the Chiefs during the last two seasons. Burrow already has extra highway playoff wins than Peyton Manning. There’s simply one thing to be stated for the way calm, cool and picked up the Bengals are in any venue, together with Arrowhead. That allows correct execution of the gameplan and execution of changes. Relaxation assured Chiefs gamers know the file and that they don’t have this edge, too. It’s not some non-factor worn out by crowd noise, doubtlessly giving the Bengals an edge away from dwelling.

Story originally appeared on Bengals Wire

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