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Bengals vs. Chiefs Betting Picks and Props: AFC Championship Preview

Samaje Perine - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Joe Burrow has been everywhere these last few days. From his icy 360 warm-up passes to his Joe Cool responses in interviews, he has taken the league by storm. To be honest, as a Bengals fan, I am absolutely loving it. However, I am sure Steelers and Chiefs fans everywhere are tired of hearing his name.

Even if you disagree with the headlines, you have to admit it’s about the time his name has hit the headlines. After surmounting who is often considered the second-best QB in the AFC (Josh Allen), he looks to take down Patrick Mahomes for the fourth consecutive time in two years.

This is no easy task, regardless of Patrick Mahomes’ ankle injury. Obviously, a fully healthy Mahomes is a different beast, but Mahomes and Andy Reid always manage to find some magic. My name is Ellis Johnson, and this is your AFC Championship betting preview. If articles aren't your jam, check out my TikTok previews and breakdowns of my player prop parlays (@FiresideFantasy_FF).

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Bengals vs. Chiefs - 6:30 PM ET

The three previous times these two QBs have met (including last year’s AFC Championship game), each has been decided by three points. Say what you will about 3-0 not being a fluke, a winning margin of three points doesn’t make me confident it’ll be four. Having said that, this Bengals team hasn’t lost since Halloween, and Burrow has played like a stone-cold killer. On the other side, the biggest story is Mahomes. It has been determined that he will play this weekend, however, we won’t know how mobile he’ll be. A high ankle sprain is no joke, even though he played on the same injury back in 2019. Because the injury is a wild card, this game is tough to predict. The line opened with the Chiefs being one-point favorites, fluctuated all the way to Bengals -2.5, and currently sits at Chiefs -1 with an over-under of 48.5.

Bengals Overview


In Burrow’s six playoff games, he has averaged 260 passing yards, 1.3 touchdowns, and 0.3 interceptions per game. However, what I think is the most important part of his game is his silent confidence. There’s something about when he takes the field that immediately exudes offensive power. Just watch either opening drive against the Bills this season. Each was methodical as he dissected the defense with dimes. 

As much as I want to spend this article drooling over Joe Cool, there are many other aspects of this offense to discuss. What surprised everyone was the fantastic play of the Bengals' offensive line despite missing three starters. Already this was a line that started off shaky at best and grew as the season went on. Then after losing three linemen in three games, this group of lads managed only 12 QB pressures and didn’t allow a sack. They also laid the foundation for Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine to have productive days.

If they can secure the ground game again, it could go a long way to keep the ball out of the Chiefs’ hands. However, this week they go against one of the best defensive linemen over the last decade, Chris Jones. If they can manage to keep Burrow upright, then it’ll be hard for this Chiefs' defense to cover these weapons.

Weapons are something that the Bengals have in abundance. When these two teams met earlier this season, Chiefs safety Justin Reid claimed he would shut down Bengals WR Tee “Higbee”. Instead, he managed to eat a nasty stiff arm from Samaje Perine right into the ground (here’s the video). Anyways, speaking of Tee Higgins, he has been relatively quiet over the last few games, failing to crack 50 yards in each of his last five. However, his 1000-yard, seven-touchdown season, and 6’4” frame show how dangerous a WR he can be. It’s only a matter of time until one of these teams finds a way to slow down Ja’Marr Chase and make Higgins answer the bell.

Slowing down Chase is a huge problem for defenses. Over his last 10 games, he has seven or more receptions in nine of them. The only one he didn’t was against the Bills last week where he caught five passes for 60 yards and a score. Regardless of the defense, Ja’Marr Chase always finds space, and more importantly, Burrow always finds him. The two complimentary pieces to this passing attack are former first-round pick Hayden Hurst and slot WR Tyler Boyd. Both these players have shown the ability to make plays when needed.


Arguably the most underrated part of this Bengals team is their defense. Lou Anarumo has worked wonders for this team. What is interesting about this defense is that there isn’t necessarily a star standout. Sure, you can argue D.J. Reader, Jessie Bates, and Trey Hendrickson are becoming stars, but they are by no means household names. Still, with the help of veteran players such as Eli Apple (yes, Eli Apple helps), Sam Hubbard, B.J. Hill, and Mike Hilton, this team was able to hold Buffalo to 10 points. Lou Anarumo has called some excellent games against the Chiefs in the past, and I think he’s up to the task once again.

Chiefs Overview


I don’t think you can start a Chiefs’ breakdown without mentioning Patrick Mahomes' ankle. In fact, his ankle is well on the way to becoming the ninth wonder of the world. This is partly because no one knows how it is. The team is saying he is fine, but we knew they would say that regardless. As for Mahomes, he also is saying that he’s feeling “great” and had a full practice on Wednesday. Meanwhile, injury experts are saying they would be shocked if it doesn’t impact him this week. At the end of the day, who knows? So I’m going into this game assuming Mahomes is fully healthy, as I don’t want to be stuck underestimating one of the league’s best.

With that in mind, this should be an excellent game. Travis Kelce is coming off a career year, finishing eighth in receiving yards, second in receiving touchdowns, and third in receptions. Plus, last week he managed a playoff record-tying 14 catches. What’s interesting here, is that the Bengals have managed to hold him to relatively tame stat lines over their previous three games. His biggest game came in last year’s AFC Championship matchup where he went 10 receptions for 95 yards and a score. However, in the previous two, he had 25 and 56 yards respectively with zero scores. Especially with this rag-tag receiving core, he’ll be a key part of this game against a Bengals team that allowed the fifth-fewest touchdowns and twelfth-most yards to the position. 

Ragtag is the best way I can describe the rest of these weapons. This group failed to have a 1000-yard WR and Mecole Hardmen led the way with four receiving touchdowns. As for the run game, they managed to find some consistency with rookie Isaiah Pacheco. However, lately, you can make an argument that Jerrick McKinnon has been a key emergence over the later part of the season. Although he failed to do any damage against the Jaguars, I think he is the one most impacted by Mahomes’ mobility (or lack of it). As a result, this group won’t be as strong as their weakest part, rather this group will be as strong as what Mahomes and Kelce can manage to do.


The Chiefs' defense was surprisingly sturdy all season, allowing the tenth fewest yards per game. This team also managed to average the third most sacks per game, a statistic that will be key this Sunday. They also allowed the twelfth fewest yards to the WR position, despite allowing the fifth most touchdowns to the position since Week 10. When going against the trio of Chase, Higgins, and Boyd, this will most definitely be challenged. Lastly, their defense was stout against the run, averaging the tenth fewest rushing yards to RBs, and tied for the second-fewest RB rushing TDs per game. At the end of the day, this defense is better than they’re given credit for. Although not elite in any one aspect, they are the definition of above average all around. The question will truly be, is that good enough to slow down a scorching hot Bengals team?


Ellis’ Betting Picks (CIN vs. KC)

Bengals +1, Under 48.5

As I mentioned before, this line is everywhere. After moving to Bengals -2.5, it’s now -1 for the Chiefs again. As a result, I’m going to use my pick on the money line. As for the over-under, it has also fluctuated but has held steady at 48.5 points for now. 

This is a tough game to call, and that is assuming a healthy Mahomes. Honestly, I was surprised the Bengals were six-point dogs to Buffalo, and the line moving like it makes me think they would be dogs to a healthy Mahomes and company. That makes no sense. This is a pick’em and until the Bengals start getting respect from the books, give me the money line, plus money with them. Seriously, what have you seen this season that makes you think Kansas City is better? I’ll wait.

The over-under is a tough one here, even when assuming Mahomes is fully healthy. These two teams could score 100 and I don’t think anyone would be surprised. However, I think both of these defenses are underrated. It’s hard to see either team stopping these electric offenses, but these chess matches often lack high-scoring shootouts. As a result, I’m leaning towards the under on this one. 


Player Prop Parlays (CIN vs. KC)

Joe Burrow Over 1.5 passing touchdowns
Ja’Marr Chase Over 6.5 receptions
Samaje Perine Over 2.5 receptions


Jerick McKinnon Under 28.5 rushing yards
JuJu Smith-Schuster Over 49.5 yards
Chris Jones Over 0.5 sacks



Bengals to score on their first drive +140
Tee Higgins Over 57.5 yards -114
KC Under 2.5 total touchdowns -110


Thanks for checking out my work. Catch me here for my Super Bowl preview!

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