The AFC Championship kicks off between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals late Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs will have hosted five consecutive AFC Championships, so the event is now an annual late-January tradition.
And when the game kicks off, oodles of Bengals fans will be in attendance, an amount especially noteworthy because Kansas City is renowned for raucous homefield advantage.
Vikings Mentioned in Interesting Chiefs-Bengals Factoid
Interestingly, per Harold R. Kuntz of FOX4 News Kansas City, a news anchor at the station, the Bengals fan footprint could be the most significant since the Vikings visited the building in 2019.
Kuntz tweeted Sunday, just hours before the beginning of the AFC Championship, “The biggest ‘takeover’ of Arrowhead since ’18 was the Vikings game. Even Chiefs players noticed all the purple. See how the situation is Sunday.”
The “since 2018” caveat is thrown in there because that’s when Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes took over the franchise, a bookmark in Chiefs history.
Mahomes didn’t play that day against the Vikings, battling a knee injury that inserted Matt Moore in the starting lineup. The Chiefs didn’t miss a beat regarding wins and losses and disposed of the Vikings 26-17 on November 3rd, 2019, at Arrowhead. Three months later, the Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years, and the Vikings impressive fan presence was all but a footnote to history.
That Week 9 contest was actually well within the Vikings grasp until the 3rd Quarter when veteran running back Damien William ripped off a 91-yard yard touchdown scamper, which would turn out to be the longest touchdown allowed on defense in the Mike Zimmer era. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was marvelous, diming 220 passing yards and 3 touchdowns to no interceptions.
Moreover, Minnesota’s fans traveled particularly well that season. Six weeks later, Vikings fans trekked to StubHub Center, the temporary home of the Los Angeles Chargers, and seized homefield advantage. The Chargers have struggled to establish homefield advantage since the move to Los Angeles — no matter the venue — but Vikings fans fundamentally stormed StubHub Center that December afternoon. Minnesota defeated Los Angeles 39-10, marking the final time to date it has defeated an opponent by 17 points or more.
As for the AFC Championship, the aforementioned Mahomes will limp into the contest with a high ankle sprain. He was injured last weekend in a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, finished the game, and seems hellbent on playing versus the Bengals. High ankle sprains usually sideline athletes for two months.
The Vikings and Chiefs play again next year — at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).
All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.