When the Cincinnati Bengals hosted the Kansas City Chiefs during Week 17, Joe Burrow delivered a signature franchise quarterback performance, as he completed 30 of 39 passes for a whopping 446 yards with four touchdowns in a dramatic 34-31 win. That same day, the Bengals clinched the AFC North.
The stakes will be much higher for Burrow this Sunday, in a rematch against the reigning conference champions with a trip to Super Bowl 56 on the line. So, should the Bengals once again design a gameplan that relies heavily on Burrow's arm, or craft a more balanced attack to keep the Chiefs guessing? The answer is to let Burrow loose, according to The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia.
"I think the Chiefs are almost going to dare them to run the ball. They're going to say, 'We're playing our safeties back, going to double Ja'Marr Chase. If you want to hand the football off, go ahead,'" Kapadia told the Maggie and Perloff show on Friday. "But if I'm the Bengals, you got this far. I'm putting the ball in Burrow's hands. I'm not saying you have to throw it every single snap. But I'd be very nervous about saying, 'Let's hand the ball off to Joe Mixon.'
"Burrow is too good. He's able to find answers, regardless of what coverage the defense is playing... I know that their offensive line isn't good. Burrow's going to take sacks. But instead of running the ball, I'd like more answers in the quick passing game... He may be the most accurate quarterback in the NFL already, in his second season. I'd say let Burrow cook. If you're going to go down, go down with the ball in his hands."
Although the Bengals advanced to their first AFC championship game since 1988 on a walk-off field goal made by rookie Evan McPherson, the moment wouldn't have occurred without Burrow's toughness. Despite being sacked nine times against the Tennessee Titans, which tied a league playoff record, he still managed to throw for 348 yards. According to Stathead, the yardage was the fourth-most by a quarterback sacked nine times in a game.
The conference title game between Cincinnati and Kansas City will kick off at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday inside Arrowhead Stadium. According to FiveThirtyEight projections, the Bengals currently have just a 19-percent chance to advance to Super Bowl 56. Burrow has already become the first quarterback who was a former No. 1 overall draft pick to reach a conference championship game in his first or second season.
The entire NFL conversation between Kapadia and Maggie and Perloff can be accessed in the audio player above.