AFC Championship Game 2022: Injury Report, Predictions for Bengals vs. Chiefs

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 30, 2022

AFC Championship Game 2022: Injury Report, Predictions for Bengals vs. Chiefs

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    Jeff Dean/Associated Press

    There have been instances in the past when NFL teams have overcome injuries to star players to make a deep run through the postseason. However, the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals haven't needed to do that, which is a big reason why both are in the AFC Championship Game.

    For most of the campaign, the Chiefs and Bengals have stayed healthy. Many of their top players have remained on the field, and they have delivered the big performances needed to power their teams through the playoffs.

    Kansas City has notched victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills this postseason, while Cincinnati has defeated the Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans. Now, the Chiefs and Bengals are set to go head-to-head at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday in a rematch from Week 17 of the regular season.

    Although both teams are mostly healthy, several players from each team have injury designations. Here's a look at the injury report for both the Bengals and Chiefs, followed by a prediction for how the AFC Championship Game will turn out.

Bengals Injury Report

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    DE Cam Sample: Doubtful (groin)

    WR Stanley Morgan: Doubtful (hamstring)

    DT Josh Tupou: Questionable (knee)

    At the start of the week, quarterback Joe Burrow (knee), wide receiver Tee Higgins (thumb) and linebacker Keandre Jones (thumb) were all listed on the injury report. However, all three were full participants in practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

    The Bengals are in good shape entering the AFC Championship Game, with their top players all ready to go. They could lack some depth on the defensive line, though, if Sample and/or Tupou can't play.

    Sample and Morgan didn't practice Friday, while Tupou was a limited participant all week.

    Morgan hasn't played since Cincinnati's regular-season finale. Sample and Tupou both suited up for the Bengals' win over the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round, but they played only 18 and five snaps, respectively.

Chiefs Injury Report

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    David Dermer/Associated Press

    S Tyrann Mathieu: Questionable (concussion)

    RB Darrel Williams: Questionable (toe)

    Tyrann Mathieu was injured during the first quarter of the Chiefs' win over the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round. He's been in the NFL's concussion protocol since then, and he will need to be cleared if he is to suit up for the AFC Championship Game.

    Mathieu was a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday, and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told reporters Friday that he believes Mathieu will be "ready to roll" Sunday.

    Reid was also optimistic regarding the status of Darrel Williams, who missed the win over Buffalo. The running back was a full participant in Wednesday's practice, but he was only a limited participant on both Friday and Saturday.

    At the start of the week, there were nine other players on Kansas City's injury report, a group that included running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder), wide receiver Tyreek Hill (heel) and defensive tackle Chris Jones (groin). However, all nine were full participants in practice all week and avoided injury designations.

Game Prediction

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Experience can be a big factor in games on a stage like this. And if that ends up being the case in this year's AFC Championship Game, then the Chiefs have a huge advantage.

    This is the fourth straight year that Kansas City is playing for the conference championship. It has won the AFC title the past two seasons, and it went on to win the Super Bowl at the end of the 2019 season. Many of the players on the roster were part of those teams too.

    The Bengals haven't been to the AFC Championship Game since the 1988 season. Before this year, they hadn't even notched a playoff victory since the 1990 campaign. While Cincinnati has recorded two postseason wins this year, it hasn't played in a game of this magnitude.

    It should be a competitive, high-scoring game, just like it was when these two teams met in Week 17. In that matchup, the Bengals won 34-31 on Evan McPherson's 20-yard field goal as time expired.

    But this time, the Chiefs will come out on top. They will rely on their experience, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes will deliver a late touchdown pass that will help Kansas City secure the victory and a third consecutive trip to the Super Bowl.


    Prediction: Chiefs 36, Bengals 30