Bengals vs Chiefs: 4 bold predictions for AFC Championship Game


The Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals are battling it out in the AFC Championship Game, Joe Burrow vs Patrick Mahomes with the victor headed to Super Bowl LVI at stake.

This is familiar ground for the Chiefs. Kansas City hosts its fourth consecutive AFC title game, an NFL record. This is also a comfortable spot for head coach Andy Reid, who coached the Philadelphia Eagles in four straight NFC championship bought (2001-’04).

Cincinnati doesn’t have that experience. The franchise just snapped a 31-year drought without a playoff victory this postseason and its last AFC Championship Game appearance came on Jan. 8, 1989.

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Let’s dive into everything you need to know about the Bengals vs Chiefs matchup.

Bengals vs Chiefs odds, game information and line

DateTime (EST)TV Info
Sunday, January 303:00 PMCBS
  • Bengals at Chiefs point spread: Chiefs -7.0
  • Over/Under: 54.5
  • Money line: Bengals +285; Chiefs -345

Related: How to watch Bengals vs Chiefs AFC Championship Game

Below we’ll examine the Bengals vs Chiefs matchups, with bold predictions that will determine our AFC championship game prediction.

Chris Jones dominated, records two sacks

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City did Chris Jones no favors this season by shifting him to defensive end. It’s not his natural spot and that reflected in his play. But once he kicked back inside after the Melvin Ingram trade, the 6-foot-6 defensive tackle returned to complete domination.

Even looking at the standard Chris Jones states will make an impression. Across 14 regular-season games, Jones recorded 17 quarterback hits and 9 sacks. But a look even further behind those numbers tells you even more. Pro Football Focus credited Jones with 65 pressures (3rd among interior defensive linemen) and 47 hurries (2nd). Meanwhile, Jones ranked second among defensive tackles in ESPN’s pass rush win rate (21%).

Cincinnati’s interior offensive line just allowed Jeffery Simmons to record three sacks. It led the way in a team effort, tying the single-game playoff record (9 sacks). This is a matchup Jones can dominate, especially with the Bengals expected to pass a lot.

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Ja’Marr Chase, Tyreek Hill combine for 300-plus receiving yards

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe this prediction isn’t bold enough for the Bengals vs Chiefs matchup. In the Week 17 meeting, Ja’Marr Chase did the heavy lifting by recording 266 receiving yards. Because of his phenomenal performance, Hill only needed 40 yards for these two electrifying wide receivers to collectively hit the 300-yard mark.

We believe it can happen again. Cincinnati’s secondary never found an answer for A.J. Brown in the divisional round. The Pro Bowl wide receiver hauled in 5 of 9 targets for a whopping 142 receiving yards. While an impressive feat, it could have been even higher if Ryan Tannehill didn’t miss downfield throws. With Hill now healthy, his elusiveness and deep speed make this the perfect time for a monster game.

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Chase isn’t going to top 260-plus receiving yards again, or at least he shouldn’t. But assuming that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnulo will suddenly make adjustments for him might be wrong. Chase scored two touchdowns, including a gorgeous 72-yard sprint, in the first half against the Chiefs in Week 17. Spagnulo didn’t make adjustments, leading to a 69-yard touchdown to open the third quarter.

Elite players make big plays on the grandest stage. The matchups are ripe for Chase and Hill to explode, setting the NFL world ablaze and leaving torched defensive backs in the rearview mirror.

Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes make playoff history

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of that last meeting, Burrow and Mahomes put on a show. While they didn’t set any NFL records, no one watching felt disappointed after seeing a combined 674 passing yards and six touchdowns. Everyone would love to see that again, but it could be even better.

According to Stathead, the record for most combined passing yards in an NFL game is 874. It came in Super Bowl LII when Nick Foles (373 yards) and Tom Brady (505 yards) collectively lit up the sky. In NFL history, there have only been three games with 800-plus combined passing yards (NE-PHI, Detroit Lions vs New Orleans Saints in 2012 Wild Card round and San Diego Chargers vs Miami Dolphins in 1982 Divisional Round).

We could witness that feat on Sunday. Kansas City is going to exploit the Bengals’ secondary and in order to keep up, the Bengals must do the same. We just saw Josh Allen and Mahomes combine for 683 net passing yards in a game where both teams combined for 291 rushing yards.

Be prepared for fireworks. Each of these offenses is capable of scoring 35-plus points and their quarterbacks can make it look easy. While we have seen some low-scoring playoff games, that’s not the expectation from this Bengals vs Chiefs duel.

Bengals vs Chiefs prediction: Chiefs 41, Bengals 35

NFL: AFC Championship Game-Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not a surprise that the Chiefs are favored to win, especially at home. The Bengals needed some very fortunate calls and a few uncharacteristic defensive penalties by Kansas City’s defense late to pull off the win. Everyone is also a prisoner of the moment and the Chiefs’ thrilling win generates more buzz than a 19-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

We fully expect this game to come down to the wire. Mahomes and Burrow will go shot for shot at times and their receivers will deliver highlights NFL fans watch for years. But experience and winning inside the trenches matter. Because of those factors, Mahomes will deliver late to send the Chiefs to their third consecutive Super Bowl. One thing is for certain, Bengals vs Chiefs will go down as a playoff classic.

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