With the 2022 NFL Playoffs winding down, the Cincinnati Bengals will travel to Arrowhead Stadium to meet the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET.
The AFC Title game features the Chiefs and the Bengals. While we expect the Chiefs in the NFL’s version of the Final Four, there weren’t many who had the Bengals making the playoffs this season, let alone advancing to Championship Sunday.
Despite the on-paper mismatch, the battle-tested Bengals are not the team to sleep on.
All NFL odds and 2022 Championship Sunday lines are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and current as of 12 p.m. ET on Friday, January 28.
Bengals vs Chiefs AFC Championship Prediction
The Chiefs are 7-point favorites entering Championship Sunday, and although the Bengals are road underdogs, I am giving them a shot to cover. I think there’s even a good chance that the Bengals win outright and represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI.
While the Chiefs are loaded with weapons on both sides of the ball, the Bengals aren’t far behind in terms of player personnel.
With that said, I will give Kansas City a significant edge in coaching and experience because of Andy Reid and the fact that they’ve been here before.
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I used the term “battle-tested" in my intro. We know the Chiefs are, but so are some of the Bengals. Two years ago, Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase won the National Championship with LSU.
Burrow is a winner, and he’s shown it since the start of December. Since then, he’s thrown for at least 300 yards — including a 400- and 500-yard outing — in five of his seven games with a 16:6 touchdown to turnover ratio. He’s even rushed for two scores as well.
Burrow and the Bengals have gone 5-1 in their past six. Their only loss was in the regular-season finale, though Burrow and most starters were sitting. As a starter, he’s won five in a row.
During that winning streak, the Bengals defeated the Chiefs 34-31. And although that game was in Cincinnati, Burrow proved he can beat Patrick Mahomes in a shootout where he and Chase were unstoppable.
While both clubs are relatively healthy, there is one significant injury to monitor. Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu is in the NFL’s concussion protocol from a head injury he sustained last week, and the Chiefs already had a difficult time containing Burrow and his slew of pass-catching weapons.
I know this sounds like a pro-Bengals article, but it’s not. I just don’t know what more to say about a team that is a perennial contender. The Chiefs are supposed to be here. They field the eighth-best scoring defense and the fourth-best scoring offense in the NFL. Their AFC Championship Odds have been great from the start of the season.
While the Bengals aren’t far behind offensively — they ended the regular season ranked seventh in scoring — Cincinnati’s defense must find a way to step up against Kansas City. They ranked 17th in the regular season, and while they have allowed fewer than 19 points in each of their first two playoff games, the Chiefs are different.
- Read our NFL Conference Championship Best Bets.
The key to the game for a Bengals win is their offensive line. Cincinnati has allowed 11 sacks in its first two playoff games, including nine last week to the Titans. Somehow, Burrow overcame the menacing pressure and adversity that would make most signal-callers implode.
The answer to Cincinnati’s defense and pass protection woes might come in the form of one player: Joe Mixon.
If Mixon can get going on the ground and efficiently run the ball, he will keep Mahomes on the sideline, which helps Cincy’s defense. Mixon could also assist the offensive line in pass protection. He has to play a massive role on and off the stat sheet if the Bengals are going to win.
For the Chiefs to win, their defense must step up and not allow Burrow and Chase to play catch like there are no defenders. In their last meeting, Chase went for 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 receptions.
Kansas City’s offense will have no issues scoring the football, but if their defense doesn’t contain Chase, they’ll find themselves playing golf during Super Bowl LVI.
AFC Championship Game Prediction: Bengals 36, Chiefs 30
Bengals vs Chiefs Best Bets
Anthony Cervino is 35-34 on his 2021-2022 NFL Best Bets for The Game Day.
Best Bet: Bengals +7 (+100) at Caesars
Wager: 2 Units
I like the Bengals to win the game. However, the safer play is to take them with the points. Seven points is a lot in the postseason, even in a game that the consensus views as a mismatch.
In 19 games this season, the Bengals are 12-7 against the spread while the Chiefs are 10-9. Kansas City has gone 8-2 ATS in its last 10 and 2-2 over its last four. These two clubs don’t meet often, but the Bengals have covered in three of their past four meetings.
Look for this game to go down to the wire, which has been a trend for most of this postseason. Whether or not the Bengals are victorious, they have enough firepower to expose Kans City’s defense and keep the game within seven.
I would take the Bengals with the points down to +6.
Best Bet: Over 54.5 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 2 Units
I expect a ton of points on Championship Sunday in the Bengals-Chiefs matchup. In Week 17, these two teams met and scored a combined 65 points.
While the total has gone Under in five of the Bengals’ past seven games, the total has gone Over in seven consecutive Chiefs games.
Both the Bengals and Chiefs are score-first teams with defenses that can be exploited through the air. This spells disaster for Under bettors. I would take the Over up to 56. We could easily see 60+ points.
Check out more of our Bengals vs Chiefs Predictions
Best Bet: Bengals Moneyline (+285) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
I’m taking the Bengals outright. Is it risky? Sure. Is it impossible? Absolutely not. If you read this article, you’d see why the Bengals can and will get the job done on the road.
Not many teams can keep up with the Chiefs in terms of scoring, but the Bengals can. Look at last week. Bills WR Gabriel Davis popped for 200+ yards and four touchdowns. Just imagine what Ja’Marr Chase will do.
Am I worried about the Bengals’ offensive line? Certainly. However, Burrow still managed to find a way to win after getting sacked nine times last week. While he didn’t throw for a touchdown, he still completed 75.7% of his passes for 348 yards and a pick.
Looking at his stat line, it doesn’t look like the pressure really phased him. Burrow is elite.
As long as Burrow doesn’t regress, the Bengals will win this game. If Patrick Mahomes can win a Super Bowl in his second year as a starter, why can’t Burrow?