Logan Vaughn and Braeden Guthrie
Cincinnati Looks To Clinch AFC North Title Against Reigning AFC Champs
They always say, “To be the best, you gotta beat the best.” And I’ve never personally liked this particular saying, but for Joe Burrow and his Cincinnati Bengals, it holds merit on Sunday when Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs come to town.
Bengals Defense Getting Reinforcements
After testing positive for covid on Tuesday, Germaine Pratt was returned to the active roster on Saturday afternoon. He’s joined by D.J. Reader, who’s also coming off of the covid list, and Logan Wilson, who suffered a shoulder injury in the Week 13 home loss to the Chargers.
Trae Waynes will miss another game after he was the latest victim to be placed on the covid list on Friday.
This game is shaping up to be one of the premier games of the season. Joe Burrow hosts Patrick Mahomes in a game with massive playoff implications. Both of these teams are thought of as explosive offenses by the casual fan, but each of their respective defenses have really been what’s paced them.
Kansas City is playing some of their best football of the year at the moment and they’re also looking to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Bengals, on the other hand, should be playing like it’s win-or-go-home.
Travis Kelce figures to be a problem for a Bengals defense who just got torched by George Kittle and Mark Andrews in recent weeks. And Tyreek Hill is, well, they call him cheetah for a reason. Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Co. will be facing one of the best defenses they’ve faced all season. All in all, I still think Cincinnati has more weapons, more to play for, and home field advantage in a game that Joe Burrow was seemingly born for.
Orlando Brown Jr. vs Trey Hendrickson
To say Trey Hendrickson has been an effective free agent signing would be an understatement. Hendrickson has 14 sacks which is 5th best in the NFL. The Chiefs traded for Brown Jr. in the offseason from the Ravens, as they wanted to improve their offensive line. Brown Jr. started off the season slow, but has since been one of the most reliable left tackles in the NFL. Sunday, we will see 2 of the best at their position go at it.
Travis Kelce vs Lou Anarumo
You read that right. A key matchup is Kelce vs Anarumo. While there are many differences between the Marvin Lewis and Zac Taylor era, one thing has stayed the same; the Bengals inability to cover tight ends. No single player in the NFL can stop Travis Kelce. And the Bengals will not stop Kelce, nor do they need to. They need to contain him. The Bengals have struggled to cover tight ends all year, even when a 3rd string quarterback is playing. If Anarumo can’t contain Kelce, it will be a long day for the defense.
X-Factor: Bengals’ Play Calling + Crunch Time Defense
Logan’s Prediction: I’m oddly more confident about this matchup than I have been since I wrote in the summer that the Bengals would win this game 30-27. Not only that, but I had this game as the Bengals’ tenth win of the season. And I’m sticking with my gut, pending a well coached and called game by not only Zac Taylor, but Lou Anarumo too. Reminiscent of LSU’s win over #3 ranked Alabama with Joe Burrow at the helm, he shows up again with all the marbles on the table. It’s a back and forth game all day long until a Bengal intercepts Patrick Mahomes with under two minutes to play. The Bengals hold on, and clinch the AFC North, 30-27.
Braeden’s Prediction: Maybe the New Year has me optimistic, but I believe the Bengals pull out a win in a high scoring game. Both teams are playing for the playoffs (Chiefs for 1 seed, Bengals to lock down a playoff spot) and will leave everything on the field. The game will comedown to which defense can make a stop in a critical situation. Both defenses are ranked in bottom in the league for passing defense (On average, Bengals have allowed 252.8 passing yards per game, and the Chiefs have allowed 245.7). However, the Bengals rank 4th in the NFL in run defense, while the Chiefs rank in at 20. I believe the bengals defense steps up late, and pullout the victory. The good guys win 35-28.
Logan’s MVP: Joe Burrow
I’m one of the few people that don’t call for Zac Taylor’s job every single time there’s a questionable play call. I watch a lot of football games with a lot of play calls that make me want to turn the tv off. But at this stage of the season, with all that is on the line, Zac Taylor cannot be the one holding #9 back. Live and die by your franchise QB – that’s what he was drafted first overall for. Joe Burrow continues his streak of recent success and jolts himself into the MVP race.
Braeden’s MVP: Jessie Bates
After failing to give Bates a contract extension in the offseason, many fans were upset. However, with how the season is going, it’s understandable why the Bengals were so hesitant to make him one of the highest paid safeties. Bates has just 1 interception this year, and his coverage has been downgrade from lat year. That’s not to say he’s been bad. He hasn’t at all, he hasn’t met the expectations that were set out for him. However, I think that changes Sunday. The Chiefs love to spread the ball out to all their great targets. As the center fielder on the defense, Bates will have a tough task. I believe he answers the call and makes a game changing play that helps the Bengals win.