5 keys to victory for Bengals in AFC Championship game vs. Chiefs

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Run the ball efficiently

When looking ahead to a matchup between the Bengals and Chiefs, the running game is at the bottom of most people’s minds. While this game is likely to be a shootout between Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes, the Bengals need to run the ball efficiently when they do utilize the ground game.

In the 2021 season, Joe Mixon was one of the league’s best running backs. The team has gone away from the veteran running back as of recently, but all hands will have to be on deck and performing at the highest level to keep up with an elite scoring offense like the Chiefs’.

Against the Chiefs in Week 17, Mixon only carried the ball 12 times for 46 yards, for an average of 3.8 yards a carry. In the AFC Championship, Mixon likely won’t get a much heavier workload, but he will have to get more yardage with the carries he does get.

The stat of “teams win this many games when rushing the ball this many times” is overrated, because as we all should know by now, teams typically rush the ball more with a lead. One stat that is not overrated, however, is this: the Bengals are 7-1 this season when Mixon averages 4.1 yards or more a carry. The amount of carries for Mixon does not matter, what does matter is that he is productive when he does get the ball.

The Bengals’ offensive showing on Sunday will largely rely on quarterback Joe Burrow, but if Mixon can put forward a performance along the lines of 15 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown, it will help the offense immensely.