The Cincinnati Bengals (regular season 12-4) have found the secret weapon to beat the Kansas City Chiefs (regular season 14-3), as they have won all three meetings since drafting Joe Burrow No. 1 overall in 2020.
The two teams met in last season’s conference title game, won by the road Bengals, 27-24. A few weeks prior (Jan. 2nd), the Bengals defeated the Chiefs at home 34-31. This past Dec. 4th, Cincy was a 27-24 winner in Ohio.
Ahead of Sunday’s AFC rematch in the title game, money has poured in on the men in stripes. Cincinnati is favored by 2½ points (total of 46½), according to NFL odds.
Cincy is listed at 5-2 (+250) to win the title, a bit ahead of Kansas City at +265, as per BetUS sportsbook Super Bowl odds.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs Odds by BetUs
|Bengals||-1½ (-110)||46½ (-110)||-125|
|Chiefs||+1½ (-110)||46½ (-110)||+105|
Year of the Cats?
Funny thing happened on the way to the neutral-site (Atlanta) AFC title game.
Cincinnati eliminated that scenario by running roughshod over the Bills, 27-10, in Buffalo.
That was Cincinnati’s 10th win in a row since a Halloween loss to the Cleveland Browns. The team has taken on the personality of Burrow, often even-keeled and never lacking confidence. Burrow doesn’t have a single defeat in January.
Using that aforementioned Bills-Chiefs neutral-site AFC title affair as motivation, these “uninvited guests” are out to get to the Super Bowl in consecutive seasons,
Joe Burrow is one of three quarterbacks to earn five playoff wins in his first three seasons, joining Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) and Russell Wilson (Seahawks). Each has a win in the Super Bowl, obviously the goal of Burrow and the Bengals.
Offensively, the Bengals ranked seventh in scoring (26.1 points per game), and eighth in yardage (360.5 per game). If there’s a knock, it’s that the offense (265 passing yards/game, 95.5 yards/game) has been one-dimensional. Rushing ended 29th in the league, but Joe Mixon’s 20- carry, 105-yard effort (one touchdown) against the Bills was just his second hundred-yard game of the season.
Cincinnati’s 18 giveaways were fourth in the league.
They were sixth defensively, having surrendered 20.1 points per game. Midpack (16th) in total defense (335.7 yards/game, but 23rd against the pass (229.1 yards/game).
Their two dozen takeaways were ninth overall.
How’s the Mahomes Ankle?
Patrick Mahomes has been regarded as the best quarterback in the National Football League\, and will probably win another MVP award.
That’s on the back burner, though, as the status of his right ankle is the story ahead of this game. Mahomes suffered a high-ankle sprain early in the 27-20 division-round victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
KC had the league’s best offense during the season, 29.2 points and 413.6 yards per game. They were first in passing (297.8 yards/game) but just 20th in rushing (115.9 yards/game). Their 23 giveaways were 24th.
Signing Juju Smith-Schuster helped fill the void left after the trade of Tyreek Hill. Smith-Schuster ended with 78 catches (933 yards, three touchdowns). Of course, tight end Travis Kelce remains the elite target on the offense (110 catches, 1,338 yards, 12 touchdowns).
Running back Jerrick McKinnon added 56 receptions (512 yards, nine touchdowns).
Kansas City’s defense had its moments but broke sporadically.
It was 16th, having surrendered 21.7 points per game. Also, 11th in yardage (328.2 per game). It finished 18th against the pass (220.9 yards/game), and hasn’t shown the ability to slow Burrow and his weapons over the past two seasons.
Bengals Again AFC’s Best
Cincinnati will obviously pressure Mahomes, seeing exactly how mobile he is Sunday. Superior at extending plays, that may be somewhat compromised with his sprained ankle.
The Bengals are favored by 2½ points on the road. They are 8-2 against the spread (ATS) on the road, 6-2 ATSas road favorites. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are 1-1 against the spread when underdogs, the loss coming at home.
Cincy is 5-1 ATS in its last six meetings with the Chiefs. While the home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five, we will look to win (-145) and cover the spread (-110) with the Bengals as they successfully defend their AFC title.