Bettors have witnessed a tremendous move in early wagering for the AFC championship line ahead of Sunday’s showdown between the Bengals and Chiefs.
Since Sunday night’s opening number was released by SI Sportsbook, Cincinnati has flipped from 1.5-point underdogs to 1.5-point road favorites. There are a multitude of reasons for the dramatic shift, none bigger than the status of Patrick Mahomes’s injured ankle.
The Bengals and Chiefs will face off in the AFC championship game for the second straight year. Last season, Cincinnati upset Kansas City, 27-24, as seven-point road favorites, cashing for bettors on the moneyline at +255 odds. The question for bettors this time is: Can Mahomes play at an elite level despite the ankle injury?
Joe Burrow improved to 5-1 (83.3%) straight-up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) in playoff games after Cincinnati’s 27-10 upset of the Bills last week in the divisional round as six-point road underdogs. The Bengals extended their winning streak to 10 games by cashing for bettors at +220 moneyline odds and travels back to Arrowhead looking to become AFC champions in back-to-back seasons.
The Bengals have posted an extremely profitable 8-1-1 ATS mark for bettors during this 10-game winning streak. Burrow, who is 3-0 SU and ATS in three career games versus Mahomes, will head to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time favored to beat a player likely headed for league MVP honors for the second time in his six-year career. The two clubs met once this season back in Week 13 with Cincinnati emerging with a 27-24 win as 2.5-point home underdogs.
Kansas City, the 1-seed in the AFC, held on to beat the AFC’s 4-seed Jacksonville, 27-20, last Saturday. Andy Reid’s club closed as the biggest favorite of the divisional round and once again prevented bettors from cashing in on the club’s 15th win of the season. Kansas City dropped to a paltry 1-7-1 (12.5%) ATS at Arrowhead Stadium, while falling to a disappointing 5-12-1 (29.4%) versus the number overall.
The Chiefs will host their NFL record fifth consecutive AFC title game and head into the showdown with the Bengals on a six-game winning streak, while boasting a 11-1 record over their last 12 games. However, the Bengals are 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS over their last eight meetings versus the Chiefs dating back to 2008.
Heading into championship Sunday, respected money information from Vegas information has helped the SI Betting community go 9-4 on player proposition wagers and 6-1 on teaser investments since Week 18!
The information is up 6.6 units in the NFL playoffs, leaving us with a profit of +12.65 units on the season in NFL wagering here at Sports Illustrated.
Let’s dive into the AFC Championship!
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs AFC Championship Game Odds
- Spread: Cincinnati -1.5 (-110) | Kansas City +1.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: CIN (-125) | KC (+105)
- Total: 46.5 – Over (-110) | Under (-110)
- Public (Spread) Betting Percentages: CIN 86% | KC 14%
- Game Info: Jan. 29, 2023 | 6:30 pm ET | CBS
Bengals Straight-Up Record: 14-4
Bengals Against The Spread Record: 13-4-1
Chiefs Straight-Up Record: 15-3
Chiefs Against The Spread Record: 5-12-1
Odss and Betting Insights
Cincinnati Offense vs. Kansas City Defense
Burrow Flourishes vs. Chiefs
The Bengals finished the regular season with the league’s fifth-best passing attack (265 yards per game) and find a favorable matchup versus a Chiefs’ defense that has surrendered 38 total touchdowns to quarterbacks this season.
After limiting Trevor Lawrence to one touchdown pass last week, Kansas City has only allowed multiple touchdown passes in three of its last eight games.
However, will the club be able to slow down Burrow, who has dominated them in three meetings over the last two seasons? The former Heisman winner has thrived when facing Mahomes and the Chiefs, throwing for 982 yards and eight touchdowns, while adding one rushing score in the three matchups.
- Mixon Produces In Divisional Round
Joe Mixon exploded for his just his second 100-yard-plus rushing game of the season in the win over Buffalo. The versatile back, who headed into the divisional round averaging just 38 rushing yards per game over his previous four games, ran for a game-high 105 yards, while adding a touchdown.
Mixon has rushed for 183 yards, while hauling in 13 receptions for 68 yards in three career games against the Chiefs. The veteran back did not clear concussion protocol for the Week 13 game, opening the door for Samaje Perine to shine. The backup tailback rushed for 106 yards, while grabbing six receptions for 49 yards.
- Chase Continues To Shine
Ja’Marr Chase, who has scored nine touchdowns over his last nine games, has been in peak form since returning from a hip injury earlier this season. The star wideout has hauled in 25 receptions for 417 yards and four touchdowns in three career games against the Chiefs. In six career playoff games, Chase has been dynamic by averaging 6.5 receptions per reception, 85.5 receiving yards and recording three touchdowns. His ‘Anytime Touchdown’ market with -105 odds will be a primary target of player proposition bettors.
Kansas City Offense vs. Cincinnati Defense
- How Healthy Is Mahomes?
Mahomes has guided the NFL’s best passing attack averaging 297.8 yards per game, but will his injured ankle prevent his normal immense production?
The star signal-caller, who owns a 40-10 record (80%) in the regular season and playoffs in his career at Arrowhead, will face a 23rd-ranked Bengals’ pass defense allowing 229.1 passing yards per game. Mahomes was held to just 223 yards passing and one touchdown in the regular-season matchup. However, he was able to add a rushing score from three yards out on the ground.
The front-runner for the 2022 NFL MVP has been sensational in the postseason, boasting a 9-3 record. He averages 298 passing yards and 27.6 rushing yards, while throwing 30 touchdowns and adding five rushing scores.
- Can Kansas City’s Run Game Lead The Way?
Kansas City’s running game, which ranks 20th (115.9 yards per game), has witnessed the duo of Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon become integral pieces in the offense.
Pacheco, who shined in his first career playoff game by rushing for 95 yards and a touchdown, found success in the first meeting against the Bengals by amassing 82 total yards and a touchdown.
While the rookie has taken over the bell cow work on the ground, the veteran McKinnon has scored eight receiving touchdowns over his last seven games thanks to becoming one of Mahomes’s top weapons in the aerial attack. McKinnon gained 51 yards on the ground, while also hauling in two receptions for nine yards and a touchdown in the first matchup.
The savvy tailback, who has zero receiving yards in his last two games, will need to display his pass-catching skills against a Bengals’ defense that has allowed 4.61 receptions per game to running backs.
- Which Kelce Emerges?
The Chiefs’ offense performs at a peak level when Reid’s scheme heavily relies on Travis Kelce. The star tight end, who led the Chiefs in targets (152), receptions (110), receiving yards (1,338) and touchdowns (12) in the regular season, was dominant last week against the Jaguars, grabbing a game-high 14 receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
In the Week 13 meeting, Kelce made just four receptions for 56 yards. In five career games (including playoffs) versus Cincinnati, the veteran is only averaging 64 receiving yards per game while finding the end zone just twice.
On the flip side, Kelce is a postseason star, averaging 86.8 receiving yards, while catching 14 touchdowns in 16 playoff games. In four AFC title games, the league’s best tight end has averaged 7.3 receptions while adding four touchdowns.
Player proposition bettors will need to decide which Kelce shows up: the one who has only produced modest numbers versus the Bengals or the elite player who dominates in the postseason?
Cincinnati vs. Kansas City Best Bet
Mahomes, who is 9-3 in playoff games, is hearing all week how he has never beaten Burrow in three matchups and that will serve as an extra motivating factor. Winning at an 80% clip at home, combined with a 7-1-1 ATS record as an underdog, leads us to investing in the plus-odds offered on the moneyline.
With the entire world backing a red-hot Burrow versus a hobbled Mahomes, sportsbooks are likely headed for their largest liability of the NFL season. In this situation, it is often lucrative to align yourself with the needs of the house while being opposite the massive public steam. Simply backing that angle, lands you on a No. 1 seed who is 8-1 SU at home this season.
BEST BET: Kansas City Moneyline (+105)
- The Bengals are 10-0 SU and 8-1-1 ATS over their last 10 games
- Kansas City is 8-1 SU but just 1-7-1 ATS at home this season
- Cincinnati is 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS over the last eight meetings vs. Chiefs
- Burrow is 3-0 SU and ATS in his career vs. Mahomes
- Burrow is 5-1 SU and ATS in six career playoff games
- Mahomes is 7-1-1 ATS in his career as an underdog
- Kansas City is 6-3 ATS in its last nine home playoff games
- The under is 6-1 in Kansas City’s last seven home games
- The under is 6-3-1 in Cincinnati’s 10 road games this season
2022 Respected Money NFL at SI Betting: 43-36-1 ATS + Props +12.65 U
2021 Respected Money NFL at SI Betting: 33-27-1 ATS + Props +9.75 U
2021 Respected Money NFL at SI Betting: 53-44-1 ATS + Props +14.22 U
2020 Respected Money NFL at SI Betting: 72-58-1 ATS (55%)