The Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs have released their final injury reports ahead of their AFC Championship Game matchup on Sunday. The news is mostly good, but there is a new addition to the Chiefs’ injury report that could raise some eyebrows, as well as lingering concerns with the Bengals’ offensive line.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs Injury Report for the AFC Championship Game
Bengals Injury Report
Did Not Participate
Alex Cappa, G (Ankle) – Out
Jonah Williams, T (Knee) – Out
DJ. Reader, DT (Not injury related – Rest) – Cleared
Joe Bachie, LB (Foot) – Cleared
Tre Flowers, CB (Hamstring) – Cleared
Sam Hubbard, DE (Not injury related – Rest) – Cleared
Ted Karras, C (Knee) – Cleared
Hayden Hurst, TE (Calf) – Cleared
The Bengals are down several offensive linemen and are up against an intimidating front featuring Chiefs DT Chris Jones, perhaps the best defensive tackle in the NFL. Without either starting offensive tackle — RT La’el Collins is on injured reserve — and missing one of their guards, they’ll have to make do (like they did last week) with Jackson Carman, Max Scharping, and Hakeem Adeniji.
Cincinnati’s offensive line did well against the Buffalo Bills, but it’s one thing to deal with Ed Oliver and another thing entirely to deal with Chris Jones.
Despite injury issues popping up elsewhere this season, the Bengals otherwise enter this game healthy. They have been missing cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, who’s on injured reserve, for the past several weeks but have managed with Eli Apple and rookie Cam Taylor-Britt at outside corner.
Chiefs Injury Report
Did Not Participate
Justin Watson, WR (Illness) – Questionable
Mecole Hardman, WR (Pelvis) – Questionable
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR (Knee) – Cleared
Nick Bolton, LB (Ankle) – Cleared
Patrick Mahomes, QB (Ankle) – Cleared
Travis Kelce, TE (Back) – Questionable
Jerick McKinnon, RB (Ankle) – Cleared
Willie Gay Jr., LB (Toe) – Cleared
The big news here is that Patrick Mahomes is ready to go. The ankle injury he suffered against the Jacksonville Jaguars — confirmed to be a high-ankle sprain — looked bad, but he fully participated all week. He did not appear to be visibly limping in his public appearances or in practices.
Still, one of the things that separates Mahomes from other quarterbacks is his ability to scramble and throw off-platform. It’s not outside the realm of expectation that his ankle injury could limit him, even if it’s not impeding normal walking function. It’s worth being somewhat concerned that he may not be able to play at 100 percent against a stout Bengals defense. Nevertheless, his status is fantastic news for Kansas City.
Two starting linebackers appeared on the injury report, and that’s critical when going up against a team that likes to throw short and over the middle of the field as much as the Bengals do. Both are expected to play, however, and Gay was a full participant over the final two days of practice. Bolton didn’t appear on the injury report until the final day but is without a designation, so he should be fully ready to go.
Travis Kelce also did not appear on the report until Friday, and it’s always scary to see “back” as a listed injury. He fully participated in practice but is listed as questionable. Mahomes has made do with his patched-together receiving corps in part because of the connection he has with Kelce, the top tight end in the NFL. If Kelce turns out to be limited or unavailable, this will impact the Chiefs’ ability to fully attack the Bengals’ defense.