For the second year in a row, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals will meet in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. Last year, it was the visiting team that emerged victorious to advance to the Super Bowl.
Heading into this weekend’s conference championship rematch, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow feels his team is even better equipped to beat the No. 1-seeded Chiefs, who a year ago.
Burrow pointed to the growth he’s seen in Cincinnati since last season and believes his team has what it takes to win.
“I think we’re a more complete team,” Burrow said comparing the 2021 Bengals to the 2022 Bengals (via NFL.com). “I think we’re a better team, and we seem to make plays when it counts. That’s all there is to say. I think our offensive line is better, I think our running game is better, I think our defense is better.” better, I think our special teams are better. Overall, we’re a much better team than last year.”
Their road to the playoffs so far has included a 24-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the wild card round and a 27-10 road win against the No. 2-seeded Buffalo Bills.
In Sunday’s divisional round win, Burrow was 23-of-36 for 242 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills were the favorites not only to win the divisional game, but many expected them to retain the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. Cincinnati had other plans.
The Bengals gave the Bills a hard time early in the game, scoring a touchdown on their first two drives and holding the lead throughout the game. After the win, cornerback Eli Apple claimed that the Bills never had a chance.
“It was never close,” he said, cigar in hand, adding, “It should have been 31-10,” referring to a controversial Ja’Marr Chase touchdown run that was called off.
The Bengals’ offensive line has been a problem for them in recent years, but on Sunday, even with three starters injured, Burrow was only sacked once. His defense also stood out, holding Buffalo to the fewest points of the season.
The Bengals have won their last 10 games, a stat Chase says speaks for itself.
“We’ve got some dogs in this locker room,” the wide receiver said. “The record speaks for itself. Everything is going our way at the moment.”
Whether or not they’re a more complete team, as Burrow says, will be shown by a win over the Chiefs and a Super Bowl win to follow, but on Sunday they certainly made a strong case.
Last season, the team came up short, losing to the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl. Apple knows they’re far from done when it comes to proving skeptics wrong.
“We’re not done yet,” Apple said. “Win the Super Bowl. Then we’ll be better.”
The Chiefs won’t be an easy opponent to beat, but the Bengals have exceeded expectations all season. For a team that finished the season as strong as they did, they flew under the radar a bit, not getting as much publicity as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.
Burrow has history on his side, as he’s 3-0 against quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is dealing with a high ankle sprain suffered in their division win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The AFC title game will air on CBS at 6:30 pm ET on Sunday.