Conference championship games are supposed to feature two of the four strongest teams in the NFL and thus, the margin between them should be minute. But this Sunday, when the Chiefs host Joe Burrow and the upstart Bengals, the sportsbooks are leaning heavily towards one side.
Kansas City is favored by a full seven points (-7) at home. Seven. A whole entire touchdown. The gall. While it’s true that Pat Mahomes and Co. have won 11 of their past 12 contests, remember their only loss in that span came in Week 17 against these very same Bengals.
Ja’Marr Chase EXPLODED in Week 17 for 266 receiving yards and three touchdowns as he blew by every defender KC threw at him. On the season, the Chiefs were in the bottom half of the league when covering the opposing No. 1 wide receiver, and with free safety Tyrann Mathieu still dealing with a concussion suffered in the divisional game against the Bills, the Chiefs secondary could be chasing Ja’Marr down the field once more.
Joe Burrow was at the height of his powers in this game, throwing for 446 passing yards and four touchdowns, capping off a two-game run where he nearly eclipsed 1,000 passing yards with nine touchdowns. The Chiefs’ passing defense is just as worrisome now as it was then. Against the Bills, KC let Josh Allen cook to the tune of 329 passing yards and four touchdowns. If not for a cursed final thirteen seconds, we’d be hearing the talking heads debate ‘What’s Wrong With The Chiefs Defense’ all offseason long. For the year, Kansas City let up the sixth(!) most passing yards in the league, worse than both the lowly Lions and terrible Texans.
The Bengals cracked the Chiefs’ offensive code. KC scored 28 points before the two minute warning of the first half, a terrifying display of their all-star scoring capabilities. HOWEVER, once the Bengals defense adjusted to being punched in the mouth, these same Chiefs scored just three points for the rest of the game. In that barren stretch, Mahomes did not complete a pass longer than 8 yards.
Since the NFL merger, there has been a spread of a touchdown or more in the AFC Championship game twenty times. The favorite has covered that spread in 16 of those 20 contests including the most recent one in 2019, when the Chiefs beat the Titans 35-24 as seven-point favorites. Not great, Bob.
This has also been an unexpected and meteoric rise for the Bengals. They won four total games last season in Joe Burrow’s rookie year. Head Coach Zac Taylor seat was on fire and Joe Cool was coming off of an ACL/MCL tear in his left knee. Their win total projection at the start of the season was a measly 6.5 games.
Since the start of the season they have been counted out. The only team with longer odds to win the Super Bowl were the Jaguars (lol Urban). History hasn’t seen a team like these Bengals since 1999 when the Rams won it all with +15000 preseason SB odds.
On paper, the Chiefs are the better team, but do the Bengals deserve to be a full seven point underdog (+7)? They absolutely, indisputably, unequivocally do not. Bengals +7.