Joe Burrow is heading into the biggest game of his life. Yes, even more significant than the 2020 National Championship, which he won for LSU.
Burrow faces Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship. The feel-good nature of Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals won’t matter anymore. The Chiefs are coming off one of the best wins in football history and are laser-focused on reaching their third Super Bowl in as many years.
Pressure is at an all-time high for Burrow, and the stakes are even higher. He likely needs to outperform Mahomes if Cincinnati is to win.
Playing in Kansas City is no small task
All mental and emotional pressure aside for the moment, the physical act of playing in Kansas City is an arduous task. Arrowhead Stadium will be sold out with 76,416 screaming fans — all of them there to distract Burrow and throw the Bengals offense off their rhythm.
The Bengals spent all week practicing with pumped-in crowd noise in preparation for the Chiefs’ home-field advantage. Head coach Zac Taylor wants his players prepared for the extreme noise conditions.
Additionally, the temperature at Arrowhead is expected to be in the mid-to-low 30s. Burrow and the Chiefs are used to playing in the cold. However, something about that Kansas City cold hits a little differently. It’s going to be extremely dry and frigid. The football will feel like a rock.
Mahomes and the Chiefs offense are used to these conditions. In fact, one can argue they thrive in these conditions. Tom Brady is the only quarterback who can say he’s actually beaten Mahomes in the postseason since the Chiefs gunslinger debuted.
Veteran NFL corner Richard Sherman believes Joe Burrow is built for this
How Burrow responds to the extreme conditions of Arrowhead is at the center of everyone’s mind. However, veteran NFL defensive back Richard Sherman has zero concerns. Speaking on The Richard Sherman Podcast, he stated that Burrow won’t be rattled by the Kansas City atmosphere.
“If nine sacks won’t rattle him, the Kansas City atmosphere won’t rattle him,” Sherman said.
Sherman has been around the NFL for a long time and has played with two of the best quarterbacks in football (Russell Wilson and Tom Brady), him stating that Burrow won’t be rattled come game time certainly means something.
Joe Burrow has an opportunity to stake his claim as the best QB in the AFC
Since the moment Mahomes took the league by storm in 2018, it seemed like the NFL had discovered its Brady/Rodgers replacement. The league needed an undisputed “best QB in the league” moving forward, and Mahomes was developing the resume to become that. It genuinely felt like nobody would pass him for the next decade-plus.
However, following the Bengals’ rapid rise to legitimate Super Bowl contender, it’s hard to ignore Burrow’s role in all of this. Should he find a way to beat Mahomes and the Chiefs this afternoon, he’d have a legitimate claim to the throne in the AFC.
First things first, Burrow needs to prove he can handle the raucous Arrowhead Stadium. Plenty of quarterbacks have mentally crumbled inside there.