Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: AFC Championship - Bengals vs. Chiefs (1/29/2023) - Taking Vegas

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Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: AFC Championship – Bengals vs. Chiefs (1/29/2023)

By TakingVegas Staff Writer
January 26, 2023

Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs (1/29 @ 6:30 PM EST)

Spread: Chiefs -1
Money Line: Bengals -102 / Chiefs -118
Total: 47.5

Overview and Betting Info

The Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) will head to Kansas City to take on the top-seeded Chiefs (14-3) in the AFC Championship game. These teams met in December, with the Bengals winning 27-24.

The Bengals are 13-5 against the spread this season and have covered eight of their last ten games. They’ve gone over the total seven times and have done so in three of their last five games.

The Chiefs are 6-11-1 versus the spread but have only covered two of their nine home games. They’ve gone over the total eight times but have been under in three of their last five.

Cincinnati Bengals

After struggling to get past the Ravens in the Wild Card round, the Bengals dominated the Bills in Buffalo last week. Their offense was top ten in the league, with 360.5 yards and 26.1 points per game. Joe Burrow leads them, throwing for 4,475 yards (5th in NFL) and 35 touchdowns (2nd). He’s been fantastic in the playoffs, with 452 passing yards and four combined touchdowns. Burrow dominated the Chiefs in their regular season matchup with a combined 332 yards and three touchdowns. As good as he’s been, the offensive line was even more impressive last week. They allowed just one sack despite being without several key pieces. Though, they may have benefited from an injured Bills defensive front and the steady snowfall throughout the game. Right guard Alex Cappas and left tackle Jonah Williams both missed last week but may have a chance to return this weekend, which would be a huge boost.

The Bengals feature the best receiving corps in the league with Ja’Marr Chase (1,046 yards, 9 TD), Tee Higgins (1,029 yards, 7 TD), and Tyler Boyd (762 yards, 5 TD). Chase and Higgins both missed time with injuries this year but have been fantastic when healthy. Higgins has had a quiet postseason with just 65 combined yards between their two games. Chase has been excellent, with 145 yards and two touchdowns in the postseason. Chase also was fantastic against the Chiefs in December, where he caught seven of his eight targets for 97 yards. Keep an eye on tight end Hayden Hurst (414 yards, 2 TD), too, as he has been the team’s second-leading receiver in the playoffs with 104 yards and a touchdown.

The Bengals’ backfield is led by Joe Mixon, who had 814 rush yards, 441 receiving yards, and nine total touchdowns during the regular season. The Bengals’ issues with the offensive line limited Mixon during most of the season, but that changed in Buffalo last week when he went for 105 yards and a touchdown on 5.3 YPC. It was an incredible performance on the road against a top-five Bills run defense. Mixon is joined by Samaje Perine (394 yards, 2 TD), who has been great in a reserve role this season. Like Mixon, Perine is also a strong receiver and played well against the Bills with 64 combined yards.

Cincinnati’s defense was top ten in the league this season, allowing 335.7 yards and 20.1 points per game. They were good during the season, but they’ve been elite over their last five games, allowing an average of just 16.8 points during that span. They are led up front by the pass-rushing duo of Sam Hubbard (6.5 sacks, 11 TFL) and Trey Hendrickson (8 sacks, 6 TFL). While neither registered a sack last week, both had a QB hit. They are joined by linebacker Logan Wilson (123 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT), who leads the team in tackles and has played well in coverage. Keep an eye on tackle BJ Hill Sunday, as he has one sack, three pass deflections, and three TFLs in the postseason. The Bengals’ secondary was weak this season, allowing 229.1 yards per game, but it has been great in the postseason. They are led by a pair of safeties win Jessie Bates III (8 PD, 4 INT, 71 tackles) and Vonn Bell (8 PD, 4 INT, 77 tackles). They also have help from linebacker Germain Pratt (10 PD, 2 INT, 6 TFL), who has three pass deflections in the postseason and will play a key role versus Kelce this weekend.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs were tested at home by the Jaguars last week. Despite leading for the entire game, the Jags cut the lead to three early in the fourth quarter to make it a game. The Chiefs’ offense was the best in the NFL, averaging 413.6 yards and 29.2 points per game. Patrick Mahomes led the NFL with 5,250 yards and 41 touchdowns. In December, he struggled against the Bengals, completing just 59% of his passes for 223 yards. Things won’t be any easier on Sunday as he faces an improved Bengals defense and deals with an ankle injury he picked up last week. Mahomes is practicing in full and did well after returning in the second half against the Jags, so we’ll see how much the injury hampers him.

Mahomes is supported by the top tight end in the league, Travis Kelce. During the regular season, the veteran had 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns and followed it up with 14 catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns last week. He’s been dominant, but was held to just 56 yards against the Bengals this season. A pair of speedy receivers join Kelce in JuJu Smith-Schuster (933 yards, 3 TD) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (687 yards, 2 TD). They were shut down last week, combining for just three catches for 35 yards. JuJu failed to do much against the Bengals earlier this year, but MVS torched them for 71 yards on just two catches.

Seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco (830 yards, 5 TD) leads the Chief’s backfield and has been fantastic. He averaged 7.9 YPC last week, going for 95 yards against the Jags. While he doesn’t get too many carries, the rookie has been explosive when called upon, giving this offense balance. Pacheco averaged 4.7 YPC for 66 yards and a touchdown in their December game against the Bengals. He supports by receiving back Jerick McKinnon (291 rush yards, 512 receiving yards, 10 total TDs). The 30-year-old is a major red zone threat and sees plenty of action on the field. The Chiefs may also get their original starter back from injury in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He’s been out since November, but the team has signaled he could play Sunday.

The Kansas City defense allowed 328.2 yards and 21.7 points to opponents this season. They are led by a run defense allowing just 106.6 yards per game (8th in NFL). They had a career year up front from Chris Jones (15.5 sacks, 17 TFL), who is a big reason they are second in the NFL in sacks. The tackle had 5.5 sacks over their final four games but was held in check last week. He will play a crucial role against a banged-up Bengals offensive line. He is supported by Nick Bolton (180 tackles, 2 sacks, 9 TFL, 2 INT), who is second in the NFL in tackles with 180. The Kansas City secondary is average, led by L’Jarius Sneed (3 INT, 11 PD, 3.5 sacks, 5 TFL, 108 tackles) and Juan Thornhill (9 PD, 3 INT). It’s not a deep unit, meaning they’ll have their hands full against the Bengals’ receiving corps on Sunday.

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