The Kansas City Chiefs have two quarterback problems as we head to the AFC Championship week.
On Saturday, the Chiefs found a way to advance to the championship game despite superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffering a high ankle sprain and missing a large chunk of the first half before playing the second half on essentially one leg. Mahomes is planning to play through the injury next week.
While Mahomes will very likely not be near 100-percent, that’s not where the Chiefs’ worry ends at the quarterback position. They are facing the Cincinnati Bengals and Joe Burrow.
If there has been a formula to beating Mahomes, who is playing his fifth AFC title games in as many seasons as a starter with the Chiefs, it has been Burrow. Burrow and the Bengals are 3-0 against Mahomes and Kansas City in his career, and all of the games have come since January of 2022. Cincinnati beat Kansas City 34-31 at home in Week 17 of the 2021 regular season, the Bengals advanced to the Super Bowl with a 27-24 overtime win over the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game at Kansas City last year, and then the Bengals beat Kansas City 27-24 at home in Week 13 seven weeks ago.
So, the Chiefs have a pain in their leg and their rear this week.
Yes, all three of those wins have been three-point games or closer, but the point is, the Bengals will be coming into Arrowhead Stadium next week with a swagger that few, if any, other team could pull off in this circumstance. They went into Buffalo, in the snow, and blew the Bills’ doors off. Chants of “Who Dey” rang through the stadium and could be heard all the way to Missouri.
The Bengals aren’t going to be afraid of the Chiefs, and with Mahomes banged up, the Chiefs can’t be super thrilled about this matchup.
The good news for the No. 1-seeded Chiefs is that this will be a home game. If Buffalo had won Sunday, the AFC Championship would have been played in Atlanta, a neutral site, as a result of the cancelled Damar Hamlin game in Cincinnati in Week 17. The Bengals’ win makes this a traditional championship game.
Would the Chiefs, who would never admit this, secretly rather had played Buffalo even if it meant they’d lose their great home-field advantage? They shouldn’t be blamed if they did. They know what they’re getting with a date with Burrow. He’s a lot like their own guy: A gunslinger who is afraid of no one.
Burrow and the Bengals are coming, Kansas City. Thus, Mahomes’s injury is far from your only worry this week.