There's been a ton of attention recently on the dynamic chemistry Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase have used to torture NFL defenses, and rightfully so. It's clear Chase was the right pick this past NFL draft when Cincinnati decided to go weapon instead of protection for their franchise quarterback.
But too much attention can lead to others being overlooked, creating big opportunities for guys who are suddenly in the shadows. This is where Tee Higgins comes in on Sunday against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.
Higgins was the Bengals' second-leading receiver during the regular season, topping 1,000 yards for the first time in his two-year career (1,091). Seeing only a slight uptick in his targets from his rookie year (108 to 110) even after scoring six touchdowns in 2020, it's clear the addition of Chase has taken some of that attention away from the 23-year old.
Higgins was held to just 10 yards on four targets against the Raiders in the wild-card round, but made up for his quiet playoff debut with seven receptions for 96 yards against Tennessee.
Kansas City, even with their improved defense late in the year, still ranked 27th against the pass during the regular season, and gave up a ridiculous 266 receiving yards to Chase back in Week 17.
You can be sure they won't let Chase do that to them again.
This leaves more opportunity for someone like Higgins to get more looks early, and with his receiving yards prop set at O/U 70.5 (-114) at FanDuel, there's a very good chance he could get over that mark with the Chiefs secondary focused so much on Chase. Higgins also looks like a great value as an anytime TD scorer at +145 at FanDuel.
Game plans tend to evolve when teams have some experience against each other already, and given what's on the line Sunday, it's fair to say the Chiefs don't want to see the Burrow-to-Chase connection light them up again.
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