AFC Championship game picks: Best bets for Bengals vs Chiefs
Alex Buck makes his Sunday night football picks and predictions for the Bengals vs Chiefs in the NFL Conference Championship.
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AFC Championship 2022-23 Schedule - Bengals @ Chiefs
2022-23 AFC Conference Championship Game
Cincinnati Bengals (14-4, 7-3 Away) vs Kansas City Chiefs (15-3, 7-2 Home)
Date: Sunday 29th January 2023
Time: 6:30 pm EST
Venue: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
TV Channel: CBS
Live Stream: FuboTV/NFL+
Live Radio: Sirius XM
Bengals vs Chiefs Odds, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under - AFC Championship Odds
AFC Championship Game Preview
I am running out of superlatives to describe Joe Burrow and we’re only in the third season of his pro career. This year, Burrow has come back from a Super Bowl loss and proven himself as an elite quarterback that can lead his team to the deep end of the playoffs once again.
Let’s not forget that after the Bengals loss to the Rams in Super Bowl LVI, there were many outlets that wrote them off the following year. The Bengals didn’t have Super Bowl favorite odds going into this season, far from it, and when they started the year slow those critics were out in force to claim the Bengals had missed their opportunity.
Zac Taylor and his team had different plans, and after making some adjustments and cleaning up the new look offensive line, they’ve looked unstoppable since. Cincinnati haven’t lost since their Week 8 blowout against the Cleveland Browns, which included a 27-24 win over Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. In that game, Joe Burrow outperformed Mahomes, throwing 25/31 completions for 286 yards and two touchdowns. His efficiency in the last two seasons is quite remarkable, now with a career average 68.2 completion percentage.
Burrow's performance against the Buffalo Bills in the snowy, away game was the ninth time this season he ended a game with a QBR rating of over 100. He has consistently demonstrated that he is not affected by pressure in big games, and that he and his offense can excel in any setting.
Cincinnati is a powerful force offensively. Joe Burrow doesn’t throw easy turnovers. In fact, this season he has improved on the 14 picks he threw last year, only throwing 12 this year. That offense is very difficult to stop, and if they are playing at their peak, you’re going to have a hard time keeping them out.
Burrow played well in the snowy conditions, but the Bengals also had a strong performance from running back Joe Mixon, who had 20 carries for 105 yards. When combined with Burrow and Samaje Perine's 13 carries, the Bengals amassed over 400 yards of total offense against the Buffalo Bills. This performance proves that the Bengals are not affected by playing on the road and should make for an exciting matchup in the AFC Championship game.
The question on everybody's lips on the Chiefs side of the football is the mobility and comfort of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs QB got rolled up on early in the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars suffering a high ankle sprain that forced him out of the game prior to half time.
Mahomes came back in and fought through the injury in the second half, with a heavily taped up ankle and a clear level of pain. He was clearly impaired by the injury, having to hop to hand the football off on multiple occasions and wincing after some of his throws. That said, if there’s anybody that can produce some magic on one leg, Patrick Mahomes might be your best bet.
This Sunday's AFC Championship game is now a perfect replica of last year's game. The Cincinnati Bengals will travel to face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead stadium for what seems to be shaping up to be an outstanding rivalry between two quarterbacks who will dominate the NFL for many years to come.
Of course, Joe Burrow currently has the upper hand in that rivalry. He is 3-0 against Mahomes and the Chiefs. Will he maintain an unblemished record, secure the fourth consecutive victory against the Chiefs, and make it to back-to-back Super Bowls, or will Patrick Mahomes overcome the high ankle sprain to take the Chiefs back to the grand finale for a third time? We will have to wait and see.
There are notable differences between these two teams compared to last year's AFC Championship. The Chiefs offense has changed without Tyreek Hill, but Patrick Mahomes has shown that he can still perform at a high level without one of his key weapons. The Bengals will need to be prepared for more than just Travis Kelce, as Mahomes has multiple options that can make a difference in the game, such as Marquez Valdes-Scantling as a deep threat and the developing Kadarius Toney on his new team.
I would also argue that Kansas City is in a better position with their ground game this time around, with rookie Isiah Pacheco giving them a very real boost between the tackles as a hard-nosed runner. Pacheco had 95 yards on 12 carries against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and his presence gives the Chiefs something they didn’t really have this time last year.
For the Bengals, an improved offensive line has now been dented by injuries, but the replacement pieces did an outstanding job on the road against Buffalo in the divisional round. Prior to the game, the offensive line was the reason many were calling for a Buffalo victory, but the Bengals held their own, and Burrow was sacked just once on a linebacker blitz from Matt Milano.
The Bengals have reason to be optimistic, but the Chiefs' defensive line presents a significant challenge. Chris Jones is a formidable player, and the Chiefs have several experienced edge rushers who could exploit gaps in the Bengals' line. Joe Burrow has been effective at quickly releasing the ball and escaping a collapsing pocket, he will need to continue doing so in the upcoming game.
The Bengals defense then comes into this game off the back of a standout performance against Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and co, and that game will mean they come into Arrowhead stadium with a lot of confidence. Cornerback Eli Apple is certainly feeling himself on social media this week, that’s for sure.
That said, the Bills are now well known for having a poor run game, and only carried the football with a genuine running back 11 times against the Bengals despite the conditions. Cincinnati is a strong team when it comes to defending the run between the tackles, but the Chiefs should make a better go of it than the Bills did, and that’s where Isiah Pacheco might come in very handy.
Bengals vs Chiefs Predictions and Picks for AFC Conference Championship Game
It’s very difficult to bet against either of these teams. We're in for a stunning weekend of football with four franchises who all very much deserve to be here. That means trying to pick two teams to advance to the Super Bowl becomes very difficult. Patrick Mahomes ability to make just about anything happen with a football has me watching in awe every weekend, and his confidence is only growing as he dominates the NFL year after year.
Despite Mahomes' and Kelce's talent, and the coaching of Andy Reid, the Bengals have been successful against the Chiefs in the past two years. Given Mahomes' high ankle sprain, I believe the Bengals have a slight advantage in this game which is reflected by the pre-game odds.
I am impressed by the efficiency and resilience of Joe Burrow and the Bengals' offense, which consistently performs well regardless of the conditions. Therefore, I am predicting that Burrow will lead the Bengals to a 4-0 record against the Chiefs and secure their spot in the Super Bowl for a second consecutive season.
The over is a good pick in this game. The Bengals being favored to win doesn't mean that the Chiefs offense is any less formidable. They demonstrated their ability to drive 98 yards and score a touchdown with Chad Henne as a temporary replacement for Mahomes in their last game. Both teams have a strong running game and have consistently scored points. In order to win, the team will likely have to score 27-30 points or more.
Related: Check out Alex Buck four best NFL player prop bets today for Bengals vs Chiefs for the 2022-23 NFC Conference Championship game, including Joe Burrow, Travis Kelce, Trenton Irwin and Isiah Pacheco.