The road to the Super Bowl will go through Kansas City on Sunday afternoon, with the Chiefs taking on the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium in the AFC championship.
Calling the game will be play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz and analyst Tony Romo, who are coming off one of the best games in NFL history — the Chiefs’ overtime win against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills last week in the divisional round.
Romo, in his fifth year broadcasting NFL games for CBS, was every bit as enthusiastic as you’d expect for such an exciting game. “Wow, this is going to be really difficult now,” Romo said as the Bills faced a long fourth down with just two minutes remaining. When Allen threw a touchdown strike on the very next play to Gabriel Davis, a shocked Romo said, “This is… it’s just impossible.”
“Romo’s giddiness can be corny,” wrote The Ringer’s Brian Curtis. “Giddiness is also Romo’s superpower. It allows him to erase the distance between the announcer and the fan. It lets him get one over on the Professor Football model of announcer that became standard over the last decade.”
But Romo was also uncharacteristically sloppy, was stingy with his trademark insight, and struggled at times to complete his own thoughts as the game neared its conclusion. As Curtis pointed out, Romo offered little analysis on how and why Buffalo’s defense imploded, allowing a 64-yard touchdown strike to Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill with just one minute remaining in the game. Romo also whiffed on the game-winning touchdown from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce, which was obviously a catch to everyone in America except Romo.
“I don’t think it’s over, Jim!” Romo screamed, as CBS showed replays making it clear the game was over.
“Romo’s best quality is his enthusiasm, but he was nearly incoherent at times on Sunday, just all over the place,” wrote New York Post media columnist Andrew Marchand. “Some Sundays this works — on this one it did not.”
Compare that Romo to the one fans heard the previous week, when he did an exceptional job explaining why Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott wasn’t able to spike the football with so little time remaining on the clock during their first-round playoff loss to the 49ers.
“The umpire has to touch the ball!” Romo said. “Dak doesn’t realize, these guys don’t realize he has to touch the ball!”
Expect more enthusiasm from Romo during Sunday afternoon’s game, with Mahomes facing off against young Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. The last time the Bengals won in Kansas City was 2012, thought they did defeat the Chiefs 34-31 back in Week 17 in a game called by … Tony Romo.
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Here’s everything you need to know to watch or stream Bengals-Chiefs on CBS Sunday:
Bengals at Chiefs: AFC Championship
When: Sunday, Jan. 30
Where: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
Time: 3 p.m. Eastern
TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson)
Radio: 94.1 WIP via Westwood One (Ian Eagle, Tony Boselli, Ross Tucker)
Streaming: Paramount+, fuboTV (free 7-day trial), YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, DirecTV Stream, Sling TV (all require a subscription)
Mobile: NFL Mobile app, Yahoo Sports app (free on smartphones and tablets within the Philadelphia market)
Referee: Bill Vinovich
Line: Kansas City -7 | Total: 54.5
Five interesting(ish) facts about Bengals-Chiefs
This is the first time the Bengals and Chiefs have faced each other in the playoffs. Cincinnati’s all-time record against Kansas City is 16-14, but the Bengals have won five of their last six games against Chiefs, including a win in Week 16 — Kansas City’s only loss since October.
The Bengals have been able to keep all their games close this season, losing only one game by more than seven points (they were blown out by the Cleveland Browns 41-16 in Week 9).
While the Bengals are just 1-7 in road playoff games, they have never been defeated in an AFC championship, winning in 1982 and 1989 (both times, Cincinnati lost to the 49ers in the Super Bowl). But Kansas City has won seven consecutive home playoff games, dating back to 2018.
The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to host four straight AFC championship games, and hope to become the fourth team to play in three straight Super Bowls (joining the 1971-1973 Miami Dolphins, the 1990-1993 Buffalo Bills, and the 2016-2018 New England Patriots).
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (pronounced “Kel-see”) needs two touchdown catches to pass Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers receiver John Stallworth (12) for third most of any player in NFL postseason history.
Sunday’s NFL pregame shows
NFL Network, 9 a.m.: NFL GameDay Morning (Rich Eisen, Steve Mariucci, Kurt Warner, Michael Irvin)
ESPN, noon: NFL Countdown (Sam Ponder, Randy Moss, Tedy Bruschi, Matt Hasselbeck, Rex Ryan)
CBS3, 2 p.m.: The NFL Today (James Brown, Phil Simms, Bill Cowher, Boomer Esiason, Nate Burleson)
Fox29, 6 p.m.: NFL on Fox (Terry Bradshaw, Curt Menefee, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson)