AFC's high seed probably at stake in star-studded Payments-Bengals matchup

Published:Mar 9, 202418:15
AFC's high seed probably at stake in star-studded Payments-Bengals matchup

There are three kings that sit atop the AFC, and it is a large deal any time two of them meet. It is even greater when it occurs in Week 17 and the highest seed in your entire convention would possibly simply be on the road.

So sure, the stakes might be very excessive on Monday evening when the Buffalo Payments (12-3) play on the Cincinnati Bengals (11-4). They've two of the most effective quarterbacks within the NFL in Josh Allen and Joe Burrow, two of the most effective offenses, two of essentially the most explosive passing offenses, and the 2 longest present win streaks within the league.

And the winner will possible lock up homefield benefit ought to the 2 groups meet once more within the postseason — a matchup which may simply happen within the AFC Championship Recreation.

With apologies to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, the stakes actually are that prime on Monday evening. The Payments are the present leaders of the AFC, by advantage of the tiebreaker they earned with a mid-October win in Kansas Metropolis. The Payments and Chiefs are only one sport forward of the Bengals, who additionally maintain the tiebreaker over the Chiefs since they received in Kansas Metropolis, too.

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And the 2 groups are positively red-hot. The Payments have received six straight, averaging 28 factors alongside the best way. The Bengals' win streak is at seven, and so they're scoring common is 29.

One thing has to provide in what could possibly be an explosive matchup. This is a better look:

MATCHUP I: Payments WR Stefon Diggs vs. Bengals CB Eli Apple

There's some concern up in Buffalo about what's been occurring with the Payments' No. 1 receiver, who has simply 10 catches for 123 yards and no touchdowns over the earlier three video games. Diggs hasn't had a 100-yard receiving sport in his final six, relationship again to mid-November. And final week, regardless of a positive matchup in opposition to a susceptible Bears secondary, he had simply two catches for 26 yards.

Regardless of that, the Payments aren't precisely hurting for factors. However in a sport that would put a variety of pressure on the scoreboard, they want Diggs to mild up Apple, who's the Bengals' high cornerback by default. Apple might get assist from Cam Taylor-Britt, however he is coping with a stinger. So the work is more likely to fall totally on Apple's shoulders.

Diggs, fairly merely, is all the things to the Payments. He is bought 101 catches for 1,325 yards and 10 touchdowns — greater than double the catches and almost double the yards of anybody else on the crew. And since, exterior of Allen, the Payments do not actually depend on their run sport, stopping Diggs would possibly turn into Cincinnati's key to this sport.

MATCHUP II: Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase vs. Payments CB Tre'Davious White

With all due respect to Diggs, the 22-year-old Chase is the most effective weapon on this sport. And he is scorching, averaging eight catches and 89 yards in 4 video games since getting back from his hip damage.

Chase will nearly definitely be shadowed by White, a two-time Professional Bowler who remains to be working his manner again from the torn ACL he suffered final yr since he returned to the lineup on Thanksgiving. White might not be enjoying like a Professional Bowler simply but, however he has the potential to maintain Chase contained — a minimum of extra so than the rotation of CBs Dane Jackson and Kalir Elam on the opposite facet.

The significance of the matchup is fairly apparent. If Chase has an explosive sport, even the Payments might battle to maintain up. If Chase is shut down, that offers Buffalo an unlimited benefit.


The Payments and Bengals have mixed for 23 wins, which is tied for essentially the most ever for 2 groups enjoying on Monday Evening Soccer. And the 78 complete touchdowns that Josh Allen and Joe Burrow have mixed for this season is essentially the most ever between two opposing quarterbacks within the Monday evening sport. Actually, it is outstanding this sport was picked for MNF manner again in April. They could not presumably have made a better option for a late-season, nationally televised, prime-time sport.

Chiefs dethrone Bengals atop Nick's NFL Tiers getting into Week 17

Chiefs dethrone Bengals atop Nick's NFL Tiers entering Week 17

The Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Payments are slated to partake within the Recreation of the Yr, based on Nick’s NFL Tiers.


Each of those groups have sturdy defenses and each groups can run the soccer, however let's face it: This sport is all concerning the quarterbacks. It will be a shock to everybody within the NFL if the rating would not find yourself within the 30s for each groups with Allen and Burrow taking their turns making large performs. Each of them are able to enormous video games, too. However Burrow has had much more of them recently. Outdoors of Allen's large sport in opposition to the Dolphins — 304 yards and 4 passing touchdowns — he is been nearly human over the previous six weeks. He is averaged 216 passing yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. In the identical span, Burrow has averaged 287.5 yards throughout that very same stretch, with 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

Sure, Allen is fairly dynamic working the ball too. However he'll be working into the NFL's No. 7 dashing protection, which is giving up simply 85 yards per sport on the bottom previously 5 video games. Perhaps it is nitpicking, however in a sport that is destined to return all the way down to who has the ball final, that is sufficient of a purpose to select the Bengals, who're abruptly wanting rather a lot just like the AFC champs they have been final yr.

Bengals 35, Payments 32

High tales from FOX Sports activities:

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports activities, masking the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the earlier six years masking the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and earlier than that, 16 years masking the Giants and the NFL for the New York Every day Information. Comply with him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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Publish date: 2022-12-29 18:30:56
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