Cincinnati (12-7) at Kansas City (14-5)
When: Sunday, January 30th 2022
Where: Arrowhead Stadium,
Kansas City, MO
Time: 3:00 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: Kansas City -7/51
It’s going to be hard to top last week’s Divisional Round, but I expect the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs to put on a show. The AFC Championship game takes place this Sunday from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City for the fourth year in a row. The Chiefs have been one of, if not the best team in the league since around the mid-point of the season. They have won 11 of their last 12 games, but the only loss came on the road at the hands of the Bengals back in Week 17. The Chiefs rebounded from that loss to win their regular season finale, then took care of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card round. Last week’s Divisional Round win over the Bills (42-36) was one of the wildest games you’ll ever see. Kansas City comes into this contest as 7-point favorites with a total of 54.5.
They’ll face an upstart Bengals team who went into Tennessee and pulled out a last-second 19-16 victory over the favored and No. 1 seeded Titans. It wasn’t an easy win for second-year QB Joe Burrow, who was hit 13 times at Tennessee and sacked five times in the first half alone. In the Bengals 34-31 home win over the Chiefs in Week 17, Burrow threw for 446 yards and four touchdowns. Ja’Marr Chase made history with 11 catches and an NFL rookie record 266 yards receiving. The winner of this game will go on to meet either the San Francisco 49ers or Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl. A win would put the Bengals in the big game for the first time since 1988 (SB XXIII).
Cincinnati’s defense came up big last week in the win over the Titans, intercepting Ryan Tannehill three times including with 20 seconds left that led to the game-winning field goal as time expired. Burrow threw for 348 yards to become the first quarterback taken No. 1 overall to win a Divisional game within his first two seasons. He’s also the first player in league history to complete at least 70 percent of his passes in each of his first two career playoff games. In his playoff career, including LSU, Burrow is 6-0 with a 69.7 completion percentage, 22 touchdowns and two interceptions. He has some great weapons to throw to including Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Chase was fourth in the NFL with 1,455 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.
Trailing by three and having the ball with only 13 seconds left in regulation on their own 35-yard line, Patrick Mahomes got Kansas City into field goal range. Harrison Butker, who had missed an earlier field goal and PAT, drilled the 49-yarder to send it to OT. There, the Chiefs won the toss and scored a TD on a Mahomes to Travis Kelce pass to end it. The Bills never got a chance to counter. The 25 combined points were the second-most in the last two minutes of regulation of any game in the Super Bowl era. Mahomes threw for 378 yards and three scores and also rushed for a career-high 69 yards and another touchdown. Tyreek Hill caught 11 passes for 150 yards and a TD. Mahomes is playing in his fourth straight conference title game. He’s 8-2 in the playoffs with 25 touchdowns and five interceptions.
This is too many points not to take. The Bengals are solid all-around team and Burrow is the real deal. The offense is more than capable of keeping up with the Chiefs. The Bengals have already proven they can beat Kansas City. It won’t be easy, but I believe they can keep it close.
Pick: Bengals +7
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