In the same game (on the same field) a year ago, the Bengals defeated the Chiefs 27-24 in overtime. Since then, Cincinnati collected a 27-24 home victory during Week 13 of the regular season. And a year before that, the team defeated Kansas City 34-31 in Cincinnati.
So the Bengals have beaten the Chiefs three times — albeit by a total of nine points — in the last three meetings between them. Still, the opening line for the game — even with Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes hobbled with an ankle injury suffered during Saturday's 27-20 Divisional Round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars — favored the Chiefs by one point.
That's hardly a big vote of confidence for a team playing at home.
Yet following their 27-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, several Cincinnati players spoke about the disrespect they believe is directed toward their team.
“They keep talking us down, and we’ll keep showing up,” wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “The disrespect they gave us, we don’t care how they treated us and how they’re going to do us. We had the hardest schedule all year. Nothing is going to be easy for us. We know what we’re capable of, and that’s why we came out here not making a fuss with anybody and just putting on a show for the world to see.”
Bengals defensive tackle D.J. Reader said the disrespect didn't matter — although he nonetheless appeared to be keeping track of it.
“We’re going to K.C. next week,” he said. “That’s all that matters. Count us out. Count around. Bengals ain’t this. Bengals ain’t that. We just keep showing up. Keep playing on Sundays.”
Safety Jessie Bates also pushed against the narrative.
“There’s no underdogs over here,” he said — per The Athletic. “I think everybody knows that. Vegas can make the lines and all that s—t, but at the end of the day, you have to line up and play four quarters of football. We are confident as hell. We don’t give a damn who is in the stands or where it is at.”
In fact, Bates is hoping that Mahomes will be healthy for the game.
“I hope that he is healthy,” said the safety. “I hope that he is 100 percent healthy so there is no excuses. We’ll be ready.”
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow also expressed confidence.
“I think we are a more complete team [this year],” said Burrow through Yahoo! Sports. “I think we are a better team. Overall, I just think we are a better team than we were last year. We tend to make plays when it counts.”
Nor is Burrow worried about playing at Arrowhead, which is often seen as an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams.
“It’s going to be a fun one,” he said. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”