Who Will Take the Cincinnati Bengals’ Place in the AFC Championship Game This Season?

Over the last two seasons, an epic rivalry has developed in the AFC between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals. Ever since the latter drafted Joe Burrow as the first overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the two teams have embarked on a feud for the ages. And it was a rivalry that the Bengals would get the better of, at least until the back end of last season anyway.

Burrow and his Bengals would go 3-0 against the powerhouse Chiefs in their first three games against them with the former Heisman winner directing traffic. They secured a regular season victory in the 2021 season, before stunning the Missouri outfit in the AFC Championship game to punch their ticket to Super Bowl LVI. Last term, they would get another victory in the regular season to take them to three straight victories, before Mahomes and Co. finally managed a victory in last season’s conference championships.

This year, however, the Bengals are no more. With Jackpot Joey out injured for the rest of the campaign and Cincy slipping to 5-6, they are highly unlikely to make it to the postseason. So who are the contenders to take their spot in the AFC championship game?

Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens have taken over from the Bengals at the summit of the AFC North and NFL betting odds providers make them massive favorites to remain there for the rest of the regular season. Quarterback Lamar Jackson has had a quiet couple of years, but he is finally replicating the form that saw him become just the second player in history to unanimously win the MVP award back in 2019. He has been racking up thousands of yards both throwing and on the ground, and he has led the Ravens to a 9-3 record, the best in the entire AFC.

Miami Dolphins

Over at Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami Dolphins have been threatening a renaissance for the better part of two years. Last season, they may very well have begun the campaign with a blistering 11-0 record had it not been for an injury to star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Instead, they began it 8-3, and all three defeats came with the former Alabama Crimson Tide man out injured. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, their form would nosedive toward the latter half of the campaign, losing five on the spin before ultimately being dumped out of the playoffs thanks to a narrow 34-31 defeat to the Buffalo Bills in the wildcard round.

This season, however, they have once more begun in scintillating fashion. At the time of writing, they currently sit at the top of the AFC East with an 8-3 record, two wins more than the aforementioned Bills and with a game in hand to boot. They look good value to claim the divisional crown for the first time in 15 years, but how far will they go in the postseason? If they are to progress to the AFC Championship game, they will have to pick up playoff victories, something that have been unable to do since an overtime victory against the Indianapolis Colts in December 2000.

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