Sunday's AFC Championship rematch with the Cincinnati Bengals offers a chance for the Kansas City Chiefs defense to avenge getting lit up by Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase and the rest of the Bengals offense.
In Week 17, Cincy divebombed K.C.'s D, with Burrow throwing for 446 yards and four TDs and Chase corralling 11 catches for 266 yards and three scores in a 34-31 Bengals win.
Chiefs star defensive tackle Chris Jones was asked Thursday if he learned anything from the first meeting.
"I learned that they outplayed us," Jones said. "Came to a critical situation at the end, goal-line stance. A couple bad calls. It's going to be a battle. That's what I know for sure. It's going to be a battle."
In the first matchup, K.C. held the Bengals in check on the first two drives, allowing just 25 total yards. Then the floodgates opened, as Cincy scored on six of its final seven drives of the game. Penalties on the goal line allowed the Bengals to milk the clock and end the game with a chip-shot Evan McPherson field goal.
Burrow and Chase set NFL records in that game, with the QB becoming the first player in NFL history with 400-plus pass yards, 4-plus pass TDs and 0 INTs in consecutive games (also Week 16 vs. Baltimore). Chase's 266 receiving yards against K.C. set a single-game rookie record and allowed the Bengals wideout to break Justin Jefferson's Super Bowl era rookie receiving record.
This time around, the battle takes place at Arrowhead Stadium.
"I think it's more so about preparation," Jones said of succeeding in the rematch. "We're seeing things we got beat on in the first game and we're able to prepare better for them and correct our errors and mistakes."
Players with 400-plus passing yards versus an opponent in a regular-season game are 2-2 in conference championship rematches that season. Winners: Mahomes in 2019 vs. the Titans and Joe Montana in 1989 against the Rams. Losers: Mark Brunell in 1996 against the Patriots and Jay Schroeder in 1986 vs. the Giants. No QB reached the 300-yard passing mark in any of the rematches.
Players with 200-plus receiving yards versus an opponent in a regular-season game -- as Chase accomplished -- are 7-4 in playoff rematches with that team. Only Jets great Don Maynard's 118 in 1968 against Oakland went over 80 yards. In the 11 prior instances, players have averaged just 48.7 receiving yards.
Jones and the Chiefs' pass rush will play a key role in the effort to slow the explosive Bengals offense. In Week 17, Jones authored two of K.C.'s four sacks of Burrow. The QB was sacked nine times in the Divisional Round win over Tennessee.
After surging in the middle of the season, Steve Spagnuolo's defense has allowed an average of 28.75 points per game in the past four games, including playoffs.