Chiefs-Bengals: 3 matchups to watch in the AFC Championship game


There's an element of humor to the fact that, after everything that's happened this season, the Chiefs once again find themselves in their 4th-straight AFC Championship game. And not only that, but they're 4-4 hosting it, too. After last weekend's incredible and equally emotionally-exhausting overtime win over the Bills, the task this week is turning around and getting ready for a Bengals team that, you'll remember, beat the Chiefs less than 3 weeks ago. So with a spot in Super Bowl 56 on the line, here are the matchups to keep an eye on in this weekend's Championship game.

Ja'Marr Chase vs. L'Jarius Sneed
Remember when we all thought that Ja'Marr Chase was going to flame out of the NFL because he dropped a few balls in preseason? 95 catches, 13 touchdowns and over 1,600 yards later, I think his spot on the Bengals is probably pretty secure -- he'll presumably take home the NFL's Rookie of the Year award and maybe an All-Pro honor, too. On the other hand, Sneed's season has been forgettable: the second-year cornerback has allowed 81 receptions for 819 yards (10.1 Y/REC) and five touchdowns on 110 targets. He did, however, help hold Bills' star wideout Stefon Diggs to three receptions for seven yards last Sunday. Odds are that the Bengals are going to try and find some creative ways to stick Chase on Sneed -- their first meeting in Cincinnati a few weeks ago didn't go super well for the latter -- and if Sneed can find a way to play better, the Bengals' offense doesn't seem *quite* as scary.

Chris Jones vs. Hakeem Adeniji
It seems like we're maybe not talking enough about the fact that the Bengals allowed nine sacks and still somehow won a playoff game. Adeniji picked a tough day to have the worst game of his season, allowing three of those sacks on for a staggeringly-low 21.2 Pass Blocking grade from Pro Football Focus. It's hard to see a scenario where the Bengals continue making this run while continuing to let their quarterback get beat up, but who knows, they've already gotten this far.

Joe Burrow vs. Arrowhead Stadium
Burrow made some noise (pun kind of intended) this week when he said that he wasn't worried about the crowd noise at Arrowhead, because he's heard louder at all the SEC stadiums he played in while at LSU. While I don't necessarily disagree with that, the guess here is that while this was probably true before he made those comments, now he'll definitely get the loudest road game of his pro career. He seems to take just about everything else in total stride, but you could hardly blame him for being a little nervous with a shot at the Super Bowl on the line in only his second season. Does some of that infamous composure finally show some cracks in the biggest game of his life? No offense to the Titans, but Arrowhead is a different beast entirely.

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