The Cincinnati Bengals are traveling to Kansas City to face the Chiefs once again in the AFC Championship Game. It's a rematch from last season's AFC title game that led the Bengals to Super Bowl LVI, cutting the Chiefs short from another chance at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
With the Bengals riding a three-game win streak over the Chiefs over the last two seasons (regular season and playoffs included), there's a new Kansas City wide receiver familiar with the AFC North champions.
JuJu Smith-Schuster has played the Bengals nine times in his NFL career. Before signing a one-year deal with Kansas City ahead of 2022, Smith-Shuster spent five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and detailed what makes the Bengals a tough opponent after several AFC North rival matchups.
"I just think, honestly, they're just a physical team," Smith-Schuster said, via Ed Easton of USA Today Sports. "They just play physical from start to finish, all four quarters. That's something I saw playing them in Cincinnati, and it felt like a playoff atmosphere game, and that's kind of what I'm expecting to see here."
In the Chiefs' Week 13 loss in Cincinnati, Smith-Schuster only had three catches for 35 yards. After battling the Bengals franchise throughout his career, the veteran WR is not surprised by some of the noise coming out of Cincy's locker room.
"I'm sure a lot of guys are aware of the comments that they’re making," Smith-Schuster said. "I've been playing against this team since I've been in NFL, so it was nothing new to me. The Bengals, they've always been the rah-rah team. And you know, they back it up. And so they've been doing that this whole season. So it's just more so for us, for me to go out there and just play, just play ball and have fun. And just talking with my shoulder pads and helmet."
With Smith-Schuster 6-3 against the Bengals over his career, the second-round pick from the 2017 draft is looking to reach his first Super Bowl.
The rivalry between the Chiefs and Bengals is quickly gaining steam, but it has been one sided the last few matchups. Smith-Schuster and the Chiefs hope history doesn't repeat itself in Sunday's AFC Championship game with a trip to Super Bowl LVII on the line.