Omni (WSN)

Jan 28, 2022

A new challenger has arrived in the AFC Championship Game, with the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Kansas City Chiefs for the right to represent the conference in Super Bowl 56. Led by Joe Burrow and a much-improved defense, the Bengals have officially arrived as a contender.

After missing the playoffs completely in 2020, they have won the division, won their first playoff game in more than 30 years and dispatched the No. 1 seed. Things will get even more difficult this weekend, though. The Chiefs will be playing in their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game and have the chance to reach a third straight Super Bowl. So much of the attention for the Bengals this season has been focused on Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase, but the defense has been key, too. Holding the Raiders to under 20 points and forcing two turnovers were pivotal factors in winning their first postseason matchup since January 2016. They then stonewalled Derrick Henry and picked off Ryan Tannehill three times to beat the Titans. The Bengals upset the Chiefs in Week 17 on the strength of a great second half from the defense and a dominant outing from the rookie wide receiver. He destroyed Charvarius Ward and the Chiefs secondary to the tune of 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 receptions. The Bengals are touchdown underdogs, but they do have a head-to-head win and the confidence that comes from taking out the No. 1 team in the conference. This is going to be an offensive war and the Bengals defense has been decent lately but Mahomes will be too much. Chiefs 34-28 Bengals.