Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay added more fuel to the team's rivalry with the Cincinnati Bengals when asked what impressed him most about his opponent's offense.
"Nothing," the three-year veteran bluntly told reporters Thursday. "Nothing."
That's a bold statement coming from Gay, whose team is 0-3 against the Bengals in the past two years during his time in the league and whose defense allowed the Bengals to score an average of 28.3 points per game in those three meetings, including 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter almost eight weeks ago. Cincinnati also ranks seventh in scoring and eighth in yards this season.
A lot of this is thanks to quarterback Joe Burrow, who's orchestrated multiple comebacks wins Burrow and averaged 327.3 passing yards per game against the Chiefs. He's also posted a career-high 121 passer rating against Kansas City with a 9:1 touchdown-interception ratio.
Burrow does have a lot of help with two top-20 receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Chase is tied for sixth with nine receiving touchdowns and seventh in receiving yards per game despite missing five games with a hip injury. Joe Mixon is also one of the better dual-threat running backs in the league with the fifth-most receptions and sixth-most receiving yards among running backs who also rushed 210 times for 814 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games.
Chiefs-Bengals war of words
Gay's comments are the latest in a series of verbal sparring between the two teams before their rematch of the 2022 AFC championship. In last year's game, the Bengals battled from a 21-3 deficit to win, 27-24, in overtime for a shot at the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl.
Most of the same faces are back, though the Bengals' villainy is beginning to show. Safety Jessie Bates recently said he hopes Patrick Mahomes' injury ankle is fully healed so there are "no excuses" if the Bengals win. Cincinnati defensive back Mike Hilton renamed Arrowhead Stadium "Burrowhead" because of Burrow's undefeated record there.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce responded by claiming Arrowhead could break the loudest stadium record because of the Bengals' recent remarks.
"They're throwing a lot of bulletin board material out there," Kelce said on his podcast.
Apart from the defensive struggles, Mahomes' ankle should be a concern considering how he's played against Cincinnati in the past. He's never thrown for more than 275 yards in the past three meetings and struggled in the second half of games. The betting line has also fluctuated as news of Mahomes' health trickles out with the Chiefs' currently holding as the favorite – albeit by one point.
Despite all the talk, Mahomes sounds confident as he heads into his fourth meeting against the Burrow-led Bengals.
“I don’t feel like an underdog,” Mahomes said on Wednesday. “Especially at Arrowhead.”
This isn't the first time the Bengals have felt disrespected.
Following the cancellation of the Bengals' Week 17 game against the Buffalo Bills, head coach Zac Taylor made it known how frustrated he and the team were when the NFL made several adjustments to the playoff seeding. Because of the loss of a game, the Bengals and Baltimore Ravens would have had to flip a coin if Cincinnati lost in Week 18. That didn't happen – though Mixon did get fined for mocking the NFL's coin-flip decision in the Bengals' win.
And when the Bengals upset the Bills to advance to the AFC championship game, Burrow and the team told the NFL to "send those refunds" after the league announced it sold 50,000 tickets to a potential title game between the Chiefs and Bills in Atlanta.
Now, the Bengals return to Arrowhead once more after a tumultuous season both as underdogs and defending AFC champions.