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Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals: first-half open thread

A trip to the AFC Championship Game awaits today’s winner

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills host the Cincinnati Bengals this afternoon in a contest that determines who will be the second combatant in next week’s AFC Championship Game. Yesterday, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20, and in the process clinched their fifth consecutive trip to the conference title game.

If Buffalo wins, then the AFC Championship Game will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, as the league determined that a neutral-site affair would be the most equitable way to solve the issue surrounding the cancellation of Buffalo vs. Cincinnati Part I. If the Bengals win, then they travel to Arrowhead Stadium for next week’s game.

Today’s contest hardly needs any extra hype. Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon has reminded everyone who will listen that his squad’s the “big dogs” of the AFC. The Bengals have felt overlooked and under hyped all season, and they’ve channeled that “nobody believes in us” vibe all year long. Cincinnati enters this game as an underdog, with the line hovering around Bills -6 for most of the week.

It should be a bit surprising, then, to know that most national media types have Cincinnati winning this one today. They say that Buffalo turns the ball over too much, that they don’t have the horses on defense to stop the high-powered Bengals passing attack. They say that Buffalo’s struggles last week with the Miami Dolphins indicate that this isn’t a championship-caliber team.

Ultimately, what everyone thinks or believes means absolutely nothing here today. It’s Joe Burrow and Josh Allen, Ja’Marr Chase and Stefon Diggs. It’s Trey Hendrickson and Greg Rousseau, Logan Wilson and Tremaine Edmunds. It’s two of the NFL’s best teams facing off in January, and it kicks off at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Your first-half thread is here, friends. Remember to be civil to each other. Toggle those comments to “oldest” for that classic game thread feel. And, most importantly, enjoy the game wherever it is that you’re watching.

Go Bills!