Bengals' defensive plan for AFC Championship revealed: "Just cover Kelce"

Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce
Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce / David Eulitt/GettyImages

Don't make those wagers on a Travis Kelce touchdown in the AFC Championship game just yet. Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has a foolproof plan to defending the star tight end.

It's more simple than foolproof, really. Just cover Kelce.

Anarumo recently went on Pat McAfee's show and said the Bengals plan on "taking care of the core stuff first," and they'll address any schematic wrinkles accordingly.

The Kansas City Chiefs memorably designed a play against the Raiders in Week 18 in which the offense huddled up and danced in a circle as if they were playing a game of "Ring Around the Rosie."

When they broke out of the huddle, running back Jerick McKinnon took the snap and pitched it to Patrick Mahomes, who then found wideout Kadarius Toney for a touchdown that was ultimately called back.

Extra points for creativity, though.

Anarumo directly addressed the exotic wildcat play: "The Ring Around the Rosie thing.... they start going in circles and I'll tell our guys to just wait, something's going to come out of it. Just cover Kelce, how's that sound?"

Bengals' defense is prepared for all of Kansas City's tricks on Sunday

Amid the Bengals' prolific offensive success this season, one nonetheless can't ignore how spectacular Lou Anarumo has been at calling defensive plays.

Ever since Anarumo joined the Bengals in 2019, he's turned Cincinnati's defense into an underrated juggernaut and absolutely deserves head coach consideration (and it's truly baffling he hasn't received a single interview request).

During the regular season, Anarumo shined the most in his incredibly effective halftime adjustments, which caused opponents to average much fewer EPA per play in the second halves of games compared to the first halves.

Anarumo runs a tight ship in the postseason, too. In the Bengals' six playoff games in the Anarumo era, the defense has forced 12 turnovers and given up just 18.2 points per game.

Anarumo stopped Josh Allen last week and held the Bills to just 10 points (Buffalo hadn't scored fewer than 17 points all season). He stopped Patrick Mahomes in their last three meetings, including last year's AFC Championship game when the Chiefs scored just three points in the second half.

The Ringer's Ben Solak put together a graph that best describes the Lou Anarumo effect on even the best quarterbacks in the league:

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If Anarumo says they're going to cover Chiefs' Travis Kelce, chances are Kelce is going into someone's back pocket on Sunday.