The Kansas City Chiefs are kicking off their three-game road stretch with a big-time rematch against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13.
Kansas City is out for revenge after Cincinnati knocked them out in the AFC title game last season. Meanwhile, the Bengals are looking to make themselves 3-0 against the Chiefs over the past two seasons. Which players will perform well enough to secure a Week 13 victory?
Here’s a look at four Chiefs players who we’ll be paying close attention to when they face the Bengals on Sunday:
QB Patrick Mahomes
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Mahomes is must-watch football every week, but this week it feels like he could go scorched earth in a way we’ve never seen before. The former league MVP has not been shy about his performance the last time these two teams faced off in last season’s AFC title game.
“I played terrible in the second half,” he said.
While he’s certainly moved on from that game, there is a sense that he’s seeking redemption for that poor performance. That means playing his best for a full 60 minutes of football.
DT Chris Jones
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Jones is another player who was very critical of his performance in the AFC title game. He missed a sack on Joe Burrow that he felt could have altered the outcome of the game. That left a sour taste in his mouth that has persisted this offseason.
“It was the driving force for this offseason,” Jones said. “A lot of plays I left on the field that I think could’ve sealed the game and put us in a better position to win.”
This time around it feels like Jones is going to do everything in his power to maximize every opportunity he gets to bring Burrow down and cause as much disruption as possible.
CB Trent McDuffie
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McDuffie has been everything that he was advertised to be when the team selected him in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft. That said, Week 13 against the Bengals will prove to be the biggest test yet for the rookie. He’s going to get to go up against Ja’Marr Chase at times, but he’s not shying away from the competition.
“Yeah, I feel like that’s one of the big reasons why I wanted to come to the NFL – to compete with the best,” McDuffie said. “So, any opportunity that I get to go out there and play the top of the top, it’s always an exciting thing for me and I look forward to it every single time.”
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
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Smith-Schuster returned from a concussion to play in Week 12 against the Rams, but he didn’t play a full complement of snaps compared to where he was earlier in the season. Even with Smith-Schuster missing Wednesday’s practice with an illness, I expect he’ll be more involved this week and that the Chiefs will work to get him matched up with Bengals CB Eli Apple. These two played against each other in Week 16 of 2018, when Smith-Schuster was with the Steelers and Apple with the Saints. Smith-Schuster got the best of him with 11 receptions for 113 yards on the day, plus a key defensive pass interference penalty by Apple.