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How many times have the Cincinnati Bengals reached the AFC Championship?

The Bengals dominated the Bills in their own snow-filled territory to advance to the AFC title game for the 2nd year in a row...and the 4th time in history.

Jan 22, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is interviewed after winning an AFC divisional round game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Gregory FisherUSA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals came into the game against the Buffalo Bills and beat the odds in a snowy road game in New York. Joe Burrow and the Bengals dominated their AFC foes, winning 27-10 to advance to the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row.

On Sunday, they will face the AFC’s top seed Kansas City Chiefs on the road and we will be treated to a battle between the league’s two best quarterbacks, Burrow and Patrick Mahomes.

Burrow vs Mahomes: AFC Championship QB matchup

The Bengals history in the AFC Championship game

The Cincinnati Bengals have made it to the AFC Championship a total of four times now.

Much like their opponent in the AFC title game this Sunday, the Bengals have their quarterback to thank for their recent success. Before Joe Cool came onto the scene, Cincinnati hadn’t made it to the AFC Championship game since the 1980s. In fact, their 33-year drought from 1988-2021 was the longest run in the NFL by any team to not make it to the conference title game.

Since Burrow joined the Bengals in 2020, they have made it to the AFC Championship game twice, in 2021 and now again in 2022. The two they won before that were in 1981 and 1988, when both games saw them come away with a victory only to fall in the Super Bowl.

1981: Bengals defeat Chargers in AFC Championship game, lose Super Bowl XVI

The Bengals made it to the AFC Championship game in 1981 and faced the then San Diego Chargers. They dominated the Chargers in a 27-7 victory at home to move on to Super Bowl XVI to play against the San Francisco 49ers. They played their hearts out, rallying from a 20-0 deficit at halftime, but ended up losing 26-21

1988: Bengals defeat Bills in AFC Championship game, lose Super Bowl XXIII

The Bengals made it again to the AFC title game in 1988, where they faced the Buffalo Bills. They hosted the game yet again and won yet again, beating the Bills 21-10 to clinch their second AFC title and head to Super Bowl XXIII to face the same team they lost to in 1981, the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately for the Bengals, despite winning 13-6 heading into the final quarter, Niners quarterback Joe Montana delivered two touchdown passes to Jerry Rice and John Taylor and the Bengals ended up losing yet again, 20-16.

2022: Bengals defeat Chiefs in AFC Championship game, lose Super Bowl LVI

The Bengals’ 33-year run without a title game appearance finally came to an end last year when the Bengals made it to the AFC Championship game with second-year Joe Burrow in at quarterback. They played in a thrilling overtime game in which they overcame an 18-point deficit to defeat the Chiefs 27-24. They then went on to Super Bowl LVI where they lost to the Los Angeles Rams, 23-20.

2023: Bengals rematch with Chiefs in AFC Championship game

The Bengals have made it to their second consecutive AFC Championship game for the first time in franchise history. It will be an exciting matchup between two of the league’s best quarterbacks. In addition to the back-to-back AFC title games, with Burrow at the helm, the Bengals have made it to five playoff wins (three of which were on the road), two consecutive AFC North titles, one AFC title, and one Super Bowl appearance.


The game kicks off this Sunday, January 29 at 6:30 p.m. ET. If the Bengals win, they will face either the Philadelphia Eagles or the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVII on February 12.


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