Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals AFC Championship Game Prediction: Do Not Sleep on the Underdog

NFL expert Mike Spector offers his best bet for the AFC Championship Game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs.
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Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals AFC Championship Game Prediction: Do Not Sleep on the Underdog

The Cincinnati Bengals entered last week with the longest drought of playing in a conference championship game, as their previous AFC Championship Game appearance was in 1988. However, the Bengals find themselves back in the conference championship after Joe Burrow led the team to two wins in his first two career playoff starts. They will meet the Kansas City Chiefs, who are hosting the AFC Championship Game for a fourth straight season. The Chiefs are the first team since 1970 to host a conference championship in four consecutive seasons and are looking for their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance.

Will Cincinnati’s magical postseason run continue, or is Kansas City a team of destiny after last week’s dramatic victory over Buffalo?

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Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals AFC Championship Game Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Sunday, January 30

Game Time: 3:00 pm ET

Where to Watch: CBS

Click Here for Chiefs vs Bengals AFC Championship Odds

Chiefs vs. Bengals INJURY REPORT

Bengals

Questionable: DT Josh Tupou, DE Cam Sample

Out: WR Stanley Morgan, RB Trayveon Williams, DE Wyatt Ray, WR Trenton Irwin 

Chiefs

Questionable: S Tyrann Mathieu 

Out: CB Rashad Fenton, WR Josh Gordon, RB Darrel Williams, DE Joshua Kaindoh

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals AFC Championship Game Line Movement

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals AFC Championship Game Prediction

For the Bengals to earn the franchise’s third trip to the Super Bowl, they will have to continue to conquer their road demons in the playoffs. Last week’s win at Tennessee was Cincinnati’s first-ever on the road in the playoffs, as they came into the game 0-7 all-time away from home in the postseason. Joe Burrow dazzled again with 348 yards through the air, which is the most passing yards in a playoff game by a Bengals quarterback since Ken Anderson in 1983. Burrow’s one mistake was a third-quarter interception that ended a streak of six straight weeks, and 13 touchdown passes without throwing a pick. 

Burrow’s performance was exceptional, considering how much duress he was under the whole game. Tennessee entered the game with 55 sacks (third-most in the NFL) and got to Burrow nine times. Thus, Cincinnati will have to figure out a way to block better up front and keep their quarterback upright when facing the Chiefs.

Click Here for Chiefs vs Bengals AFC Championship Odds

Kansas City is coming off arguably the best postseason game of all time. When Buffalo scored the go-ahead touchdown with 0:13 left to go up 36-33, the Bills had a 91% chance to win, according to ESPN’s win probability. However, even 13 seconds proved too much time for Patrick Mahomes, who drove his team down the field in two plays to set up the game-winning field goal. 

Mahomes and Josh Allen put on a quarterback show for the ages, as their matchup was the first playoff game where opposing quarterbacks each threw for 300 yards and three passing touchdowns with no interceptions. It was also the first playoff game where opposing teams completed 70% of their passes (with at least 35 attempts each) and the first playoff game since 1950 where each quarterback led their team in rushing.

The narrative surrounding this game is that the Kansas City-Buffalo game was really for a trip to the Super Bowl, as both of those teams are considered superior to Cincinnati. And history is on the Chiefs’ side as well, as the Bills and Chiefs split their previous four playoff appearances, with the winner of the game going on to reach the Super Bowl each time. Kansas City has also won six straight home playoff games, and Patrick Mahomes’ statistics against AFC teams in the playoffs is staggering. In those games, he is 7-1 with 27 total touchdowns (23 passing), with one interception. 

Given all the monumental odds the Bengals seem to be up against, Kansas City is likely to be the most heavily bet team of the weekend. After all, they are the first team since the 1990 Bills to score 40+ points in back-to-back games during a single postseason (per the Elias Sports Bureau). But will bettors be too quick to forget that the Bengals beat the Chiefs at home 34-31 in Week 17 when they clinched the AFC North title?

Cincinnati knows what it takes to beat Kansas City and is capable of another outstanding offensive performance this week. They totaled 475 yards against the Chiefs three weeks ago, and while Kansas City sacked Burrow four times, he still completed 76.9% of his passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns. He now faces a Chiefs defense that was on the field for 63 plays against Buffalo and showed great vulnerability in the secondary in the absence of safety Tyrann Mathieu. 

While we expect most of the public to side with Kansas City, seven points are too many to give a team that beat them in the regular season, and who has as cool of a quarterback as Burrow, who is playing like a ten-year veteran so far these playoffs.  

Chiefs vs. Bengals AFC Championship Pick

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Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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