An in-depth betting breakdown of the AFC Championship Game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday:
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Opening Spread: Chiefs -1
Opening Game Total: 47.5
Opening Team Totals: Chiefs (24.25) Bengals (23.25)
Weather: Outdoors, cold temperatures expected
- This line opened between Chiefs -1 and Chiefs -1.5
- This line has moved to Chiefs -2
- This total opened at 47.5 points
- This total remains at 47.5 points
Chiefs: Questionable: TE Travis Kelce, WR Mecole Hardman, WR Justin Watson
Bengals: Out: LT Jonah Williams, RG Alex Cappa.
Chiefs Offense vs. Bengals Defense
The Chiefs have a top-10-level offensive line with one of the better interiors in the league. The Bengals have a below-average pass rush, but an above-average run defense. The Chiefs have an advantage in pass protection, but this trench matchup is more of a draw in the run game.
Regular Season Betting Notes Per TruMedia
- The Chiefs are 7-10 against the spread this season
- Kansas City is 8-9 on overs this season
- Patrick Mahomes is 41-37-2 against the spread in his career
- Mahomes is 42-37-1 on overs in his career
- Andy Reid is 197-166-7 against the spread since 2000 as an NFL head coach
- Reid is 181-178-11 on overs since 2000 as an NFL head coach
Chiefs Offense (Regular Season)
- The Chiefs scored 29.2 points per game, which was the best in the league
- Kansas City is first in the league in yards passing per game and 20th in yards rushing
- The Chiefs are passing on 67% of plays and running on 33% of plays, per Sports Info Solutions
- Per The Edge, Isiah Pacheco has at least 58 yards rushing in nine of his last 10 games, which includes last week’s matchup with the Jaguars
- Jerick McKinnon has a touchdown in each of his last six regular season games with a total of nine scores during that span
- Pacheco has been the Chiefs’ primary ball carrier since Week 10 against the Jaguars, while McKinnon takes on the bulk of the passing game and goal-line work
- JuJu Smith-Schuster finished the regular season with 78 receptions for 933 yards receiving and three touchdowns on a 17.1% target share and a 17.2% air yards share
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling finished the regular season with 42 receptions for 687 yards receiving and two touchdowns on a 13.2% target share and a 25.5% air yards share
- Travis Kelce finished the regular season with the third most receptions in the league (110), eighth in yards receiving (1,338) and second in receiving touchdowns (12)
- Kelce finished third among tight ends in target share (24.9%) and third in air yards share (24.2%)
- Per TruMedia, Smith-Schuster played 433 snaps on the perimeter and 298 in the slot this season
- Valdes-Scantling played 469 snaps on the perimeter and 264 in the slot this season
- Kelce played 321 snaps as an inline tight end, 223 on the perimeter, and 313 in the slot this season
Bengals Defense (Regular Season)
- The Bengals allowed 20.1 points per game, which is sixth in the league
- Cincinnati is 29th in the league in sacks, 10th in forced fumbles and 18th in interceptions
- Per The Edge, the Bengals allowed the 26th-most yards rushing per game and the 23rd-most yards receiving per game to running backs this season
- Cincinnati gave up the 19th-most yards receiving per game to wide receivers this year
- The Bengals gave up the ninth-most PPR points per game to slot receivers
- Cincinnati allowed the seventh-most yards receiving per game to tight ends this season
- The Bengals allowed the eighth-most PPR points per game to tight ends lined up in the slot
Bengals Offense vs. Chiefs Defense
The Bengals’ injury-ravaged offensive line held up much better than expected against the Bills last week. Even still, we should treat this group as a below-average unit if they are down multiple starters once again. The Chiefs have a fringe top-10 defensive front. Kansas City has a significant advantage in the trenches in this matchup. Chiefs premium defensive tackle Chris Jones has a major individual advantage in this contest.
Betting Notes Per TruMedia
- The Bengals are 12-4 against the spread this season
- The Bengals are 6-9-1 on overs this season
- Joe Burrow is 27-15 against the spread in his career
- Burrow is 20-20-2 on overs in his career
- Zac Taylor is 38-27 against the spread in his career as an NFL head coach
- Taylor is 29-34-2 on overs in his career as an NFL head coach
Bengals Offense (Regular Season)
- The Bengals scored 26.1 points per game, good for seventh in the league
- Cincinnati is third in the league in yards passing per game and 29th in yards rushing
- The Bengals are passing on 66% of plays and running on 34% of plays, per Sports Info Solutions
- Per The Edge, Joe Mixon finished the season 27th in yards rushing with 814, and he’s sixth among running backs in yards receiving with 441
- Samaje Perine is 21st among running backs in yards receiving
- In 12 games Ja’Marr Chase finished with 87 receptions for 1,046 yards receiving and nine touchdowns with a 29.3% target share and a 39.1% air yards share
- Tee Higgins finished with 74 receptions for 1,029 yards receiving and seven touchdowns with an 18.4% target share and a 28.5% air yards share
- Tyler Boyd finished with 58 receptions for 762 yards receiving and five touchdowns with a 13.7% target share and a 17.8% air yards share
- In 13 games, Hayden Hurst finished with 52 receptions for 414 yards receiving and two touchdowns with a 14.2% target share and a 9.7% air yards share
- Per TruMedia, Chase has played 585 snaps on the perimeter and 154 in the slot
- Higgins has played 585 snaps on the perimeter and 132 in the slot
- Boyd has played 123 snaps on the perimeter and 633 in the slot
Chiefs Defense (Regular Season)
- The Chiefs allowed 21.7 points per game, which is 16th in the league
- Kansas City is second in the league in sacks, 18th in forced fumbles and 21st in interceptions
- Per The Edge, the Chiefs allowed the 25th-most yards rushing per game and the fourth-most yards receiving per game to running backs this season
- Kansas City gave up the 18th-most yards receiving per game to wide receivers this year
- The Chiefs gave up the seventh-most PPR points per game to slots receivers this year
- Kansas City allowed the 20th-most yards receiving per game to tight ends this season
- The Chiefs have allowed the most PPR points per game to tight ends lined up in the slot this year
This Is What You’re Betting On
Back in Week 13, the Bengals beat the Chiefs, in Cincinnati, 27-24. Burrow’s Bengals enter this game with a 3-0 record against Mahomes’ Chiefs. That includes a 27-24 overtime win, in Kansas City, in last year’s AFC Championship. The Chiefs or Bengals have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl in each of the last three years.
If You’re Betting on the Chiefs
Any bet on the Chiefs is always built around Reid and Mahomes’ offense. Kansas City is the measuring stick in the AFC, and they have been the most reliable team in the league for years. The status of Mahomes’ ankle changes all of that.
Mahomes suffered, and played through, a high-ankle sprain against the Jaguars last week. Mahomes intends to play against the Bengals, but we can reasonably expect this injury to negatively impact his ability to extend plays and manage pressure. Expect Reid and his staff to game plan around Mahomes’ injury situation. That could include shorter, quick-release passes along with an uptick in screen passes. Reid is the master of the screen pass. If you’re betting on the Chiefs, you’re still building that bet around Kansas City meeting its team total.
The Chiefs’ defensive front against the Bengals’ injury-reduced offensive line is a key matchup in this contest. If Kansas City’s front can have more of an impact than Buffalo’s had last week, that creates a path where the Chiefs’ defense can spearhead a win in this contest.
Your primary concern as a Chiefs’ bettor is Mahomes either can’t finish this contest or is ruled out before the end of the week. Athletes generally miss at least four weeks with a high ankle sprain, so that type of outcome is in play. Your second biggest concern is the Chiefs’ pass rush doesn’t make a significant impact, and Burrow’s offense exceeds expectations.
If You’re Betting on the Bengals
Any bet on the Bengals is built around Burrow and his high-end skill group. The Bengals’ injury-reduced offensive line held up better than just about everyone expected last week. Taylor helped that group out with a self-aware game plan. I’m higher on Taylor than most because he’s shown throughout his Bengals’ tenure he is an opponent-specific game planner. Burrow and his fleet of difference-making playmakers are what makes the Bengals a title contender, but Taylor’s ability to game plan around his injury-ravaged offensive line is a major key to the game for the second week in a row.
The Bengals’ defense catches a major break in this matchup as Mahomes will play with a high ankle sprain. Chances are Mahomes’ ability to play out of structure will be significantly impacted. There’s also a chance Mahomes won’t finish this game due to this injury. The bottom line is Mahomes’ ankle injury creates more paths to a Bengals victory.
You have two major concerns as a Bengals bettor. The first is their offensive line doesn’t hold up against the Chiefs’ front. That’s the clearest path to the Bengals falling below expectations on offense. Your second biggest concern is Mahomes’ high ankle sprain doesn’t significantly limit his mobility.
I bet this game early this week here because I expected this line to move due to Mahomes’ injury situation.
Score Prediction: Bengals 23, Chiefs 20
Ryan’s Recent Betting Record:
TS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 48-32
Props 2022: 60-43