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Bengals Must Take Advantage of Opportunity Against Chiefs in AFC Title Game

Cincinnati is just one win away from the Super Bowl.

CINCINNATI — The Bengals hit the road to play the Chiefs on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game. 

Cincinnati is just one win away from their first Super Bowl appearance since 1988. 

It's a factual statement and yet it's still hard to believe. 

These Bengals are just one win away from the Super Bowl? This is the same team that won just four games last season. Sure, they have talent, but no one expected this run. 

Joe Burrow, Zac Taylor, Ja'Marr Chase and company have put Cincinnati in position to make its third Super Bowl appearance in team history. 

Will they beat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game? 

It's going to be much easier said than done, but the Bengals are certainly capable of winning on Sunday. They beat the Chiefs 34-31 at Paul Brown Stadium in Week 17. 

This Sunday is going to be much different. The game is at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, which is one of the loudest venues in all of sports. The Chiefs are 7-point favorites according to the SI Sportsbook. 

The Bengals have made it farther than anyone realistically expected, but that doesn't mean anyone should be satisfied. 

Cincinnati has a great opportunity on Sunday and they need to do everything they can to take advantage of it. 

It's easy to say they have a young roster and they're ahead of schedule in their rebuild. 

Those statements are true, at least on the surface, but no one knows what the future holds. It's hard to advance to a conference championship game. Even if the Bengals' young core continues to improve and they aggressively add proven talent in free agency this offseason, it's far from guaranteed that they make it to this point next year or the year after that. 

They have to take advantage of the opportunity they have on Sunday. They can't worry about next season or how their set up for sustained success for the foreseeable future. They need to do it this week. 

"There was never any schedule for us, the mentality always was we need to win the division so then we can attack our other goals," head coach Zac Taylor said on Sunday. "The other goals are always to win the Super Bowl and so there is no schedule for us. That’s the mentality every year."

The Bengals have surprised a lot of people this season, but they need to finish the job. 

They have the quarterback and the weapons to complete their improbable run. They need to play their best game of the season on Sunday. 

They aren't playing with house money, they're playing for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. These opportunities are rare. Burrow and the Bengals have to take advantage of it.

"We certainly went into training camp the early part of this season with the understanding we could achieve anything we set our mind to this year because we have the talent, we have the chemistry and we have the character," Taylor said. "It’s about getting hot at the right time and we got hot at the right time. In December we were playing good football and it’s carried us to this point. Our guys have a lot of confidence."

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