Bengals vs. Chiefs odds, prediction, betting trends for AFC championship game


So much has happened in the AFC since the 2022 NFL season kicked off over four months ago, but now, just like last season, only the Chiefs and Bengals remain to battle for the conference championship. Some things have changed over the past 12 months, but one thing has proved to be a constant: Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow are the best quarterbacks in football. We’ll sort through everything else you need to know from a betting perspective for what should be another epic clash of AFC titans.

Whether walking, limping, or hop-skip-jumping, Mahomes was not to be denied a victory at the finish line of last week’s divisional tilt. Jacksonville’s defense clearly got some good shots on the former MVP, including a high-ankle sprain that took him off the field for a stretch that must have felt harrowing for the Arrowhead faithful. After backup Chad Henne led Kansas City to a 98-yard touchdown drive, Mahomes came back in the second half, and Travis Kelce (14 catches, 98 yards, two TDs) and Isiah Pacheco helped him slay Trevor Lawrence and the impressive young Jags 27-20. 

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For the Bengals, a second-consecutive AFC title berth never seemed to be in doubt. Sure, they were a little salty about not playing on a neutral field, but in the end, it was Burrow and company that looked as though they had home-field advantage in Buffalo. They scored two quick TDs and stifled Josh Allen and the Bills the rest of the way, ultimately winning 27-10 in a game that felt more like 35-3.

There are so many similar storylines in this one beyond just the elite QBs. Each squad also has upper-echelon pass-catchers, with Kelce flirting with GOAT tight end status and the tandem of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins already staking a claim as the top wide receiver duo in the NFL. Pacheco, who looked raw earlier in the season, has turned out to be just as effective as veteran Bengals back Joe Mixon. Even the pass-catching backs — Jerick McKinnon for KC and Samaje Perine for Cincy — play pivotal roles for these squads. 

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The storyline flying under the radar this weekend is that each squad has a sneaky-good defense, and these teams might match up with one another even better than they did at this stage last postseason. It’s sure to be an unforgettable matchup, one that everyone with even a sliver of interest in pigskin will be tuning in to see. 

Let’s get you ready for Bengals-Chiefs from a betting perspective, diving into the odds, tips, trends, and storylines and ultimately making our prediction for what should be an epic Sunday night of football. 

Betting odds are from BetMGM

Bengals at Chiefs odds for NFL divisional-round playoff game

  • Broadcast: Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
  • Spread: Bengals -2.5 (-110) | Chiefs +2.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Bengals -135 | Chiefs +115
  • Over/under: O 46.5 (-110) | U 46.5 (-110)

After opening as -2.5 favorites, the Chiefs now find themselves +2.5 home underdogs for just the second time in the Patrick Mahomes era. Mahomes’ wounded ankle is the primary reason for that spread, which incrementally climbed up by half-points throughout the early week following news of the high-ankle sprain. The first time oddsmakers listed Mahomes as a home ‘dog was earlier this season against the Bills, who got slayed by Burrow and his boys last week at Orchard Park. Dating back to 1991, the only time Kansas City served as a home playoff underdog was in January of 2011 against the Ravens, who covered the three-point spread and beat the Chiefs 30-7 in the wild-card round.

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Bengals at Chiefs all-time series

These squads have matched up 32 times in NFL history, with Cincinnati holding a narrow all-time lead 18-14. Cincy has gone 7-1 against Kansas City since 2008, and Burrow is 3-0 against the Chiefs in his young career. All three of those games have taken place since Jan. 2, 2022, including the 2022 AFC championship game that Cincinnati won 27-24 on a last-second field goal.

Bengals at Chiefs: Three trends to know

— Joey B might as well be nicknamed Joey Bucks at this point because Burrow has helped Cincinnati cover 20 spreads in his past 25 starts. That’s by far the best current run of any current QB, and one of the better cover streaks by a QB in sports betting history. 

— Cincinnati has gone 13-5 against the spread this season, while Kansas City has gone just 6-11-1. Even worse, the Chiefs have gone just 2-6-1 ATS at home, while the Bengals have gone an NFL-best 8-2 ATS on the road. 

— The UNDER has hit in 10 games for both Kansas City and Cincinnati so far this season, including in each of these squads’ divisional-round games. 

Bengals at Chiefs: Three things to watch

Is Patrick Mahomes healthy? 

The collective gasp of the Arrowhead crowd last weekend perfectly described the thought running through everyone’s heads when Patrick Mahomes went down: Kansas City has no shot at another Lombardi trophy without their star QB. After some hopping around, two trips to the locker room, x-rays that fortunately ended up negative, and a serious tape-job resembling my Christmas gift-wrapping, Mahomes got back out there and helped KC secure the “W.” An MRI on Monday confirmed that he indeed suffered a high-ankle sprain, but Mahomes has assured the masses that he will play this weekend. How effective will he be, though? Chiefs coach Andy Reid claims Mahomes has “worked hard on the treatment and is doing OK.” Sure, Coach, but remember that we saw you fibbing on StateFarm commercials about drawing mustaches on your players’ faces. Alas, Mahomes himself posted on Instagram “see you Sunday, Chiefs kingdom!” In any event, betting Kansas City with its most valuable player even a little dinged up seems like an exercise in volatility.  

Can Kansas City’s underrated defense keep slowing down Cincinnati’s offense?

Reid and Steve Spagnuolo will need tip-top effort from their defensive unit this weekend, so as to not overstrain Mahomes’ ankle and overexpose him to Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, and the underrated Bengals pass-rush on the other side of the field. While the past three meetings with Cincinnati might suggest otherwise, the Chiefs D could be up for the formidable challenge of stopping Burrow. Kansas City has not allowed over 21 first downs or 350 total yards in a game since Dec. 4, and it’s logged 10 combined takeaways in the six games since then. Chris Jones is arguably the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the NFL (15.5 sacks this season, fourth most), while linebacker Nick Bolton gobbles up tackles (180, second most). With three-fifths of the Bengals’ offensive line banged up and KC’s defensive depth chart in much better shape than Buffalo’s last week, we should be in for a competitive AFC title game. 

Kelce and Chase and Higgins, oh my! Which stud playmaker will come through in the clutch?

My “stone-cold lock” of a prop bet last week was “Travis Kelce anytime TD” (-145) because the stud tight end always seems to shine brightest in the biggest games. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are similarly clutch for Cincinnati, forming arguably the best one-two receiving punch in the NFL. So, who will steal the show this Sunday evening and help their respective QB to the Super Bowl-clinching victory? My bet is on Kelce, who caught 10-of-11 targets for 95 yards and a TD when these squads met in the AFC championship game last year. Chase could just as easily go off, too — the 2021 Rookie of the Year caught seven-of-either passes for 97 yards when these squads met earlier this season. No matter what happens, it’s safe to expect a bit of a shootout.

Bengals at Chiefs: Stat that matters

28. That’s how many points Cincinnati has averaged across its past five road games despite playing solid defenses like Buffalo, New England, and Tampa Bay. The Bengals averaged 374.6 total yards over those five road victories. Kansas City allowed an average of 377.6 total yards per game over its three losses this season compared to 317.5 allowed yards per game across its 14 wins. 

Bengals at Chiefs prediction

Sportsbooks are either finally understanding how magnificent of an NFL quarterback Joe Burrow has become or they are fully acknowledging that Patrick Mahomes is one more ankle-hit away from not playing football again this season. As we have alluded, this seems like much too volatile of a situation to simply pick a 2.5-point spread one way or the other. My belief with Mahomes this week is quite similar to my thought about Jalen Hurts last week — if he’s right, he could easily smoke the opposing defense and advance — but if he’s at 75 percent or less, he might not have enough to get by. And if he gets hurt, whoa nelly. Chad Henne may have looked halfway-decent in his massive divisional-round drive after Mahomes first went down, but it’s tough to count on him in extended action. Put a proverbial gun to my head, and I’m picking the Bengals to win and just barely cover. They made me money last week, and Burrow has never met a situation too big for him. Against Mahomes, there is no such thing as a sure thing, so I’d much rather throw Cincy into a six-point teaser +3.5 and call it a conservative, Dad-betting day. 

PREDICTION: Bengals 27, Chiefs 24. Cincinnati continues its wild run of spread-covers under Burrow (-2.5), and the game cruises to the OVER (46.5) despite some frigid temperatures. You can’t freeze Joey Brr. 

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