Today is a good day for those of you who ascribe to the theory that ‘bulletin board material’ can spur a team on to a victory that they might not otherwise achieved, or simply play better, because we may get a chance to test that this weekend.
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton went a bit viral this past week after a video of him referring to the Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium as ‘Burrowhead’—referencing Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, signifying the fact that Cincinnati has had the upper hand in the matchups between the two teams.
Chiefs players have certainly taken notice, and they’ve made that clear. Take All-Pro defender Chris Jones, for example, who evoked the stadium pseudonym multiple times in his last press conference. “Take care. See y’all at Burrowhead Stadium”, he said, as he walked away from the podium.
The Bengals typically like to play the underdog card, even while at the same time denying that they should be perceived as the underdog. Here, they seem to be poking the bear. While they have recorded three victories over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs over the course of the 2022 calendar year, Kansas City is still an excellent team capable of defeating anybody.
Each of their past two meetings ended in a 27-24 result, including a Bengals win in December a month and a half ago. They also claimed a victory in Arrowhead Stadium (their only road victory with Burrow at quarterback) in the AFC Championship Game last season.
They appear confident in their chances of doing that again tomorrow. Mahomes having a high ankle sprain that he intends to play through does improve their odds, although Cincinnati will also be down some starting offensive linemen, even if the reserves held up well last week.
The Bengals are looking to become just the third team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl after losing the year before. The New England Patriots did it as recently as the 2017-18 seasons, but prior to them, it had not been done since the early 1970s when the Dallas Cowboys (70-71) and Miami Dolphins (71-72) did it in consecutive seasons.
They are also looking for their first Super Bowl trophy in franchise history, having made the trip on three previous occasions. Prior to last season, they also made appearances in 1981 and 1988, losing both times to the San Francisco 49ers, who will play the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game as well today.
As for the Chiefs, they are looking for their third Super Bowl win in five appearances, having previously won in 1969 and with Mahomes in 2019, the year before Burrow was drafted. Evidently the stadium was renamed at some point after that, unbeknownst to Kansas City. They’re looking to take the naming rights back now.