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Bengals vs Chiefs: five players to watch in AFC Championship Game

The Kansas City Chiefs will be playing in their fourth consecutive conference title decider when they host the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Update:
Bengals vs Chiefs: five players to watch in AFC Championship Game
Andy LyonsAFP

Two of the NFL’s seven best passing offences face off in the AFC Championship Game when the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday (3pm ET).

The franchises met in Week 17 of the regular season, the Bengals winning out thanks to a 20-yard field goal by Evan McPherson with time running out. Now, the teams will battle it out to represent the American Football Conference at Super Bowl LVI.

The Bengals and the New York Giants are the only teams in the history of the NFL to have won every conference title decider they’ve played in. Cincinnati have a 2-0 record in the fixture, having claimed the AFC crown at the expense of the San Diego Chargers and the Buffalo Bills, respectively. in the 1981 and 1988 seasons.

While the Bengals are returning to the AFC Championship Game for the first time in 33 years, the Chiefs will be featuring in their fourth consecutive conference Conference Championships, having won the last two.

Here are the five players to watch in the AFC Championship Game:

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

One of the stats that favour Mahomes heading into this game is that he has a 4-1 record, including the Playoffs, against teams he lost to in the season’s opening meeting. What’s more, the Chiefs quarterback faces the Bengals fresh from leading his team in throwing and rushing yards, 378 and 69, respectively, in the Divisional Round against the Bills.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes shone for the Kansas City Chiefs in their Divisional Round win over the Buffalo Bills.
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Quarterback Patrick Mahomes shone for the Kansas City Chiefs in their Divisional Round win over the Buffalo Bills.Denny MedleyUSA TODAY Sports

Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals

In the Bengals’ regular season game against the Chiefs, Joe Burrow put in one of his best displays as a professional, throwing for 446 yards and four touchdowns. Burrow will make history on Sunday, by becoming the first quarterback recruited as the first pick in the draft to lead his team to a Conference Championship Game within his first two seasons.

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs

Travis Kelce played a crucial role in taking the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game, catching eight out of nine passes for 96 receiving yards in the Divisional Round. The tight end only managed 25 yards and one touchdown from five receptions against the Rams in the regular season; he’ll now look to build on his performance against the Bills.

See also:

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals

One of the keys to how the game pans out will be the Bengals’ rushing offence. In 2021, the Chiefs have a 12-1 record when they restrict their opponents to fewer than five yards per drive. In the last seven games, Joe Mixon has stood out for his lack of production, registering 16.4 drives for 54.7 yards per game - an average of 3.3 yards per drive.

Nick Bolton, LB, Chiefs

For the Chiefs to contain Cincinnat’s rushing offence, head coach Andy Reid needs linebacker Nick Bolton on top of his game. The rookie managed eight tackles, one for loss, in the game against the Bills.

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