KC Chiefs vs Bengals: Writer predictions for AFC Championship game
By Matt Conner
There’s a reason that many NFL analysts and fans referred to last week as the “real” AFC Championship game. That’s not intended to be disrespectful in any way toward the Cincinnati Bengals. Rather, it just means that last week’s incredible contest between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium was the pinnacle of competition in the NFL. And somehow the game more than lived up to its own billing.
We bring this up now because surveying our contributors’ predictions for the AFC Championship game makes it clear that few persons are expecting this to be as close as last week. Instead, many of our experts have K.C. winning by quite a bit—and even bettors have the spread at 7 points. Will it be that close? Who will be right? Here are our writers’ predictions for the Bengals vs. Chiefs game set for Sunday afternoon.
Patrick Mahomes put the league on notice against the Bills for what looks to be the millionth time in his 4-year career up to this point. Coming off of the nirvana of the divisional round, and securing home field in the title game by way of the Titans’ loss to these very Bengals, the Chiefs will look to rectify a late-season loss to the Bengals in a big way. The Chiefs’ playoff experience and Bengals patchwork O-line are the difference in this one. Chiefs 35, Bengals 21
I think the Chiefs have crested the hill, for at least a moment, and unless it’s the Rams sitting and waiting for them in Super Bowl LVI, I don’t think the Chiefs will honestly face any great challenges left this season. The Bengals have had an incredible season but it ends on Sunday night in Arrowhead. Chiefs 32, Bengals 21
Joe Burrow has an arsenal of weapons and the unflappable demeanor to come into Arrowhead and put up points despite his inexperience on such a big stage. Thankfully for KC his offensive line isn’t good and their defense is a step down from what KC just faced vs Buffalo. At the end of the day, I don’t think Burrow and company are quite ready to dethrone the defending AFC champs and Patrick Mahomes and company keep rolling. Chiefs 37, Bengals 27
With their offense of line intact this game, the Chiefs have full use of their screen game and use it to perfection. The Chiefs leave no doubt for anyone. Chiefs 51, Bengals 35
I asked for a stress-free Chiefs win last week and got the exact opposite. Maybe this week I’ll get that? I doubt it. I think the Chiefs get this one, but how close it is will depend on the status of Rashad Fenton and Tyrann Mathieu. I’ve seen some reports that say both are expected to play. If that is the case, I think the Chiefs handle their business in another high-scoring affair. Chiefs 42, Bengals 36
The Chiefs come out looking for revenge against yet another team who beat them in the regular season. The Bengals are no Bills, and they get the full Arrowhead treatment, as the Grim Reaper sends Burrow and his boys back home on his way to a third straight Super Bowl. Chiefs 35, Bengals 20
The Chiefs’ defense was noticeably frustrated at a number of moments in the divisional round, and, assuming the secondary is able to heal up over the coming week, I expect an improved performance. Particularly on fourth down. They won’t be able to bottle up Joe Burrow for an entire four quarters, and the balance within the Bengals offense will show through at some point. With nearly every playoff game involving the Chiefs turning into an all-out war, I expect some fireworks, but overall, a convincing victory for the Chiefs to keep the Lamar Hunt trophy where it belongs. Chiefs 34, Bengals 24
This game will be another nail-biter to the bitter end. The Bengals bested the Chiefs last time around in Week 17; however, the Chiefs offense is clicking on insane levels as Mahomes is ready to conquer the AFC once again. If the staters in the secondary, like Tyrann Mathieu, return healthy for this game, I have the Chiefs going to the Super Bowl for the third year in a row. Chiefs 37, Bengals 34
The Chiefs are focused and will be out for blood in their rematch with the Bengals. While Tyrann Mathieu’s status is up in the air, I would still fully anticipate a different strategy than their first matchup. While Spagnuolo will need to be at the top of his game, I expect more heroics from Mahomes and the offense. Mahomes rarely loses twice to an opponent and it will not happen here. Kansas City will be Super Bowl-bound again. Chiefs 31, Bengals 24