Once Upon a Time in Vegas – Sunday Championship
Kansas City Chiefs (15-3 SU, 5-12-1 ATS, 8-10 O/U) host Cincinnati Bengals (14-4 SU, 13-4-1 ATS, 7-10-1 O/U) Sunday night at 6:30 pm ET from GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in the AFC Championship game. The winner of this game heads to Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona to face the winner of San Francisco/Philadelphia.
Last year, the Bengals upset the Chiefs 27-24 in overtime from Arrowhead Stadium as 7-point underdogs to earn a Super Bowl berth, where they lost to the LA Rams 23-20, but covered the 4.5.
This year, the Chiefs flew to Ohio and fell to Cincinnati (same score) 27-24 as 2.5 point favorites.
To get to this point, the Bengals defeated Baltimore at home 24-17 as a 7.5-point home favorite in the opening round and edged out Buffalo in the snow last week 27-10 as a 6-point road dog in the opening round. division.
Kansas City held on by beating Jacksonville 27-20 as a 10-point favorite last week in the divisional round. They said their goodbyes in the opening round.
Burrow leads the Bengals to their 10th straight win
How confident is Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow? After leading the Bengals to a 27-10 road win over the Bills, which denied Buffalo the chance to play Kansas City at a neutral site for the conference championship, he told CBS’ Tracy Wolfson that those fans ” Better send those refunds.” Burrow and the Bengals approached Buffalo, who had Damar Hamlin safe in attendance for the first time since he collapsed on the field in Cincinnati on Jan. 2, and simply physically mauled them running for 172 yards and passing for 240 in the snow . Defensively, they also held QB Josh Allen and company to just 64 rushing yards and 261 yards. Burrow completed 23 of 36 for 242 yards and two TDs. Joe Mixon had an outstanding game with 105 yards on 20 carries with one TD.
The energy of our team? Without equal.
Bengal | Sounds of the game pic.twitter.com/flnQoFPzFG
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) January 25, 2023
Burrow goes into this game up 3-0 against Patrick Mahomes. Last season, he threw for 250 yards with two touchdowns and a pick in the AFC title game. This year, Burrow is an even better quarterback. When you think of great or even good Cincy quarterbacks, Boomer Esiason, Ken Anderson and even Andy Dalton come to mind. But his year, Burrow surpassed them with team records for completions (414), pass attempts (606) and touchdown passes (35). In the playoffs he completed 67.6% of his passes for 451 yards with three QBs and ran for 40 yards and a TD. He will take some chances and has 12 INTs this season.
It also helps to have weapons, and Burrow has some of the best in WR Ja’Marr Chase, who missed four games with injuries and still managed to lead the team with 87 receptions for 1,046 yards. WR Tee Higgins (6-4, 215) can stretch the field and chains. He has 74 catches for 1,029 yards and seven touchdowns. Mixon had an erratic year with 814 rushing yards and seven TDs, but only 3.9 yards per carry. If there’s a problem up front, it’s on the line where right tackle Jonah Williams (knee), G Alex Cappa (ankle), and OT La’el Collins (knee) are out. That’s a concern for one of the strongest pass rushing teams in the NFL, which has 55 sacks. TE Hayden Hurst (calf) is also questionable for this game.
On defense, Cincy allows 335.7 yards per game (16th) and 229.1 yards passing (23rd). They’re strong against rushing (106.6 yards allowed, 7th), but that probably won’t matter much in this game. In their last game, the Bengals only allowed Mahomes 211 passing yards and 138 rushing yards. Sam Hubbard and Joseph Ossai each had one firing. Trey Hendrickson leads the Bengals with 8.0 sacks on the season, while Vonn Bell leads in interceptions with four.
How healthy is Mahomes?
Patrick Mahomes is having an MVP season, but what else is new? He’s starting his fifth conference championship game and was a monster in the playoffs with 28 passing TDs and just three interceptions in 10 career playoff games at home.
The Chiefs had some struggles last week against Jacksonville, leading 20-10 in the fourth quarter, but led just 20-17 after giving up a four-yard TD run to Travis Etienne Jr. Mahomes led the team all the way down the field, hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a six-yard TD pass to freeze the game with 7:08 left. However, Trevor Lawrence drove the Jags downfield in under two minutes and got his team in position to score a quick TD. but Jamal Agnew fumbled the ball at the Chiefs four-yard line with Nick Bolton recovering. Jaylen Watson also had an interception on the ensuing possession to give the Chiefs the game.
To win this Sunday, it will take the best of everyone.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 27, 2023
Mahomes completed 22 of 30 passes for 195 yards and two TDs, but suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter. Chad Henne came in and threw a TD pass while Mahomes was getting ankle x-rays, which were negative. TE Travis Kelce caught 14 passes for 98 yards and two TDs. Rookie RB Isiah Pacheco led the way with a 95-yard run
“Obviously, I feel like I still have a lot of things to do,” Mahomes told the LA Times. “We will see as we get closer and closer and we will see during the match.
“You can’t do exactly what you’re going to be in those moments during the game, but all I can do is prepare as best as I can, and then when we get into the game you hope that the adrenaline kicks in and you can make those pitches when they need to.” you need.
This season, Mahomes completed 67.1% of his passes for 5,250 yards with 41 TDs and 12 picks. He’s doing it without a real receiver number one. Then it goes to Kelce (110 receptions for 1,338 yards, 12 touchdowns) and RB Jerrick McKinnon has caught 56 passes for 512 yards this season with nine touchdowns. JuJu Smith-Schuster leads all wide receivers with 78 receptions for 933 yards (13ypc) with three touchdowns.
Kansas City leads the NFL with 413.6 yards per game and in passing yards (297.8). The addition of Pacheco (925 yds, 5 TDs), a seventh-round pick, has improved the running game (115.9ypc), where at least you can’t sleep on that aspect.
Defensively, if you’re an opponent, you better gear up for DL Chris Jones (6-6, 311). With Aaron Donald out with an injury this season, Jones was the most dangerous inside passer in the game with 15.5 sacks. When Jones gets the pass-rush pressure, the Chiefs are tough to beat. They allow 328.2 yards overall (11th), 220.9 yards passing (18th), and just 107.2 rushing yards.
The best bets for this game
Side bet on the entire game
Status of insiders:
The Bengals are a fearless young and talented team. Joe Burrow doesn’t mind heading into the snow in Buffalo or the cold at “Burrowhead Field.” Mahomes, who will likely win the MVP and deservedly so, has had issues with the Bengals defense, especially in the fourth quarter, where he has a 63.8 passer rating in three games. Also this season, Mahomes struggled in the fourth quarter with an 87.7 passer rating. Now, he’s going into this game with a sprained ankle that looks fine in training, but when he’s climbing on a very cold day, that’s when you have to worry about his accuracy.
So the Bengals can play the chip card on the shoulder and disrespect and even if the world is not against them, that motivation has worked to the point where they have won 10 straight games. I won’t say Burrow is a better quarterback than Mahomes or a better primetime quarterback, but with those guns and with Mahomes nowhere near 100%, I have to go with Burrow and Cincinnati to win this game outright and go to a second consecutive Super Bowls.
Prediction: Cincinnati +1.5
Full game total choice
Status of insiders:
This year, these teams combined for 51 points and last season they combined for 51, even though it went into overtime. That’s not even counting the January 2, 2022 regular season game (34-31 Cincy). Burrow threw for 446 yards and four TDs that game. The Chiefs gave up 20 points at home last week to the Jaguars, who coughed up late-game turnovers with a shot at 30. These two quarterbacks are certainly capable of big games, even with an injured Mahomes. Expect a big game from Mixon, who sat out the Dec. 4 regular season game due to injury. Samaje Perine had 106 rushing yards in that game and is one of the number two best defensive players in the game, who can impact a game as a runner and receiver. The same can be said of McKinnon for the Chiefs. Both coaching staffs now know how to leverage their own personnel and that makes it difficult for defenses to slow them down.
Prediction: over 47.5
Written by Ben Hayes, “Ben the Pen”
Ben has been a sports writer for over 35 years, dabbling in college and professional basketball, college and professional football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball, and even college gymnastics. He’s also been involved in the gaming industry for almost 30 years and has been trying to beat the books since he was 13! Ben has had great success in handicapping college football, NFL, college basketball, NBA and MLB for over 27 years. His Twitter handle is @BenHayesWAW