Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs AFC Championship Preview, Picks, and Betting Guide

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Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)

Date: Sunday, January 30, 2022
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Arrowhead Stadium

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs Moneyline, Total and Odds

All NFL Betting Lines, Odds, and Prop Bets are available on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Moneyline: Bengals +285|Chiefs -355
Spread: Bengals +7.5 (-118)|Chiefs -7.5 (-104)
Total: 54.5 Over (-110) Under (-110)
Odds to win Super Bowl LVI: Bengals +850|Chiefs +125

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs Predictions and Picks

  • Chiefs -7.5
  • Chiefs Moneyline -355

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs News, Analysis, and Picks

After watching Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen put on a show in last week’s Divisional Round, we’re treated to another great quarterback matchup in Sunday’s AFC Championship game, as Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) take on Joe Burrow and the surprising Cincinnati Bengals (+7.5).

Kansas City, hosting its fourth-straight Conference Championship (an NFL record), is aiming for a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. The Bengals, meanwhile, are back in the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1988. That season saw them advance to Super Bowl XXIII before falling to Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers.

Both teams head into Sunday riding the wave of thrilling Divisional Round victories, with Kansas City ousting the Buffalo Bills in overtime and Cincy knocking off the top-seeded Titans on a 52-yard last-second field goal by rookie kicker Evan McPherson.

The two teams met once back in Week 17, a 34-31 Bengals home win. The victory saw Burrow torch KC for 446 yards passing and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was just as spectacular, tallying 11 catches for a rookie-record 266 yards and three scores. While it’s unlikely the pair repeat those numbers, the Chiefs secondary has proven to be vulnerable – particularly without star safety Tyrann Mathieu (as we all witnessed). Mathieu is currently in the league’s concussion protocol after taking a knee to the head in last week’s contest but returned to practice Thursday. His status is surely one to monitor, as his absence would be a significant blow for a defense tasked with slowing down yet another of the NFL’s most explosive offenses. 

That said, Cincinnati is only averaging a little over 22 points this postseason. This is mainly due to a lack of protection up front. Burrow was sacked a league-high 51 times during the regular season. That’s continued into the postseason, as Tennessee was able to get to the former Heisman Trophy winner nine times, thus making the Chiefs’ ability to generate pressure a decidedly important factor come Sunday. If his protection holds up, Burrow and company should have little problem moving the ball – but that’s a big if.

Fresh off picking apart Buffalo’s number one ranked defense, Mahomes will likely take to the air against a Bengals secondary that finished the regular season 26th defending the pass. The 26-year-old was efficient in the Week 17 meeting, completing 26 of 35 passes for 259 yards and two scores. Cincinnati’s defense did manage to force three interceptions against Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but Mahomes and the Chiefs clearly present an entirely different challenge.

Although Kansas City does not the run ball often, one player who has been surprisingly effective out of the backfield of late is running back Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon has compiled 220 total yards in two postseason games, with 135 coming through the air. The Bengals were susceptible to pass-catching backs throughout the regular season, allowing a 23.6 target share – third-most in the NFL. This bodes well for McKinnon, who ran a pass-route on over 71 percent of Mahomes’ dropbacks against the Bills. The 29-year-old also out-touched fellow backfield mate Clyde Edwards-Helaire 15-8, suggesting he’ll be busy again on Sunday. Cincinnati will need to be wary of his dual-threat ability.

While the young Bengals are set up for success for years to come, it’s difficult to bet against the former league MVP, especially at home. Mahomes is 7-1 at Arrowhead in his playoff career, the sole defeat coming at the hands of Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in No.15’s first year as a starter. KC’s offense is firing on all cylinders, averaging a robust 42 points in their two postseason games. Cincinnati will have to extend drives and avoid long-yardage situations – something that will be difficult given its woes on the offensive line, not to mention the sure-to-be raucous environment. We like Kansas City to win relatively easily and advance to yet another Super Bowl.

All NFL game predictions and picks are courtesy of SportsGrid

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