For the second year in a row, the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs will duke it out at Arrowhead Stadium with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. That game needed overtime to determine a winner and it was Joe Burrow's Bengals that found themselves as the last team standing in the AFC. Will we have a different outcome today?
So far, Burrow has dominated this rivalry with a 3-0 record against Patrick Mahomes, which includes that postseason victory a year ago and a win earlier this season. Will that continue or does Kansas City finally snap its losing skid against Cincy and inch one step closer to a second Super Bowl title during this era with Mahomes under center? We'll have that answer soon enough.
In the meantime, we'll specifically be looking at the different betting angles that this matchup has on deck for us. Below, you'll read picks from both CBS Sports and SportsLine experts on this game, as well as a handful of player props that catch our eye.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
Date: Sunday, Jan. 29 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, MO)
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
Odds: Chiefs -1.5, O/U 48
Bengals at Chiefs spread picks
SportsLine's R.J. White consistently crushes his NFL picks. He went 445-378-24 on his ATS picks from 2017-21, which returned $2,542 to $100 players. White is also well known for cashing out big at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest twice since 2015, so you'll naturally want to see which way he's leaning with his spread pick for the AFC Championship. We can tell you he's leaning Over the total, but White has now found a key X-factor that makes one side of the spread a must bet. To see what that is, go check out SportsLine.
"The Kansas City offense did some good things when he returned against Jacksonville after the injury, but he certainly looked limited in terms of mobility. That will matter against a Bengals defense that has so many moving parts and can blitz from all over. They've done a great job against him late in games in the past three times they've played. The Jaguars didn't come after Mahomes enough after he hurt his ankle, but you can bet the Bengals will, even though that's not the strategy they used to beat him in the title game last year. They came after Josh Allen a lot last week in their upset victory.
"In that game, Joe Burrow and the offense had success moving the football. An offensive line that was down three starters played well as the Bengals ran it with Joe Mixon and Burrow hit some big shots in the passing game. Mixon didn't play in the regular-season game between these teams this season, but he will be big in this one. The Chiefs can get after the quarterback, after registering 55 sacks this season, which will put a premium on running the ball and protection for the Bengals, who could have some of those offensive linemen back.
"The Bengals have beaten the Chiefs three straight times, including the AFC Championship game last January and a regular-season game this season. Burrow seems to relish the big moments. I expect him to play well here, while Mahomes' limited mobility will be in play. That matters and it's why the Bengals will be going to their second straight Super Bowl." -- CBS Sports Senior NFL Analyst Pete Prisco on why he expects Cincinnati to continue its success against the Chiefs and pull out the 27-24 win. To see his pick for the NFC Championship, click here.
"The biggest factor on Sunday is definitely going to be Mahomes' ankle. I'm not a doctor, but I might as well be after spending the past two hours getting a medical degree online. Sure, it only cost $12, and yes, it's probably not legit, and no, I'm still not qualified to talk about Mahomes' ankle, but I will say this: I don't think he's going to be anywhere near 100% this week.
"The problem there for the Chiefs is that Mahomes does some of his best work outside of the pocket, especially in the postseason. Over the past five years, NFL quarterbacks have combined to throw 37 touchdown passes from outside the pocket in the playoffs and Mahomes has FIFTEEN of those. To put that in perspective, no other quarterback even has five.
"If Mahomes isn't healthy enough to move around, that's going to create a lot of issues for Chiefs. ... In an ideal world, I'd get to personally evaluate Mahomes' injured ankle before I make a pick for this game, but I'm starting to feel like that's not going to happen, so I'm just going to have to suck it up and make my pick.
"Since 2014, there have been a total of 13 AFC or NFC title games that have been rematches from the regular season and in those 13 games, the team that won during the regular season has gone 10-3 in the title game rematch. Burrow is 3-0 against Mahomes with all three games being decided by exactly three points and the Bengals are going for their third straight playoff win. Also, Burrow has never lost in January (7-0), he's never lost a road playoff game (3-0) and I think we all know where I'm going with this pick." -- CBS Sports NFL writer and Pick Six Podcast super friend John Breech on why he is rolling with the Bengals, 27-24. To see his NFC Championship pick, click here.
SportsLine's Projection Model is a must-have tool during these playoffs. The model simulates every NFL game 10,000 times and is up well over $7,000 for $100 players on top-rated NFL picks since its inception. Since Week 7 of these season, the model is also on an incredible 16-6 roll on top-rated NFL picks. Naturally, you'll want to see what the model has selected for Championship Weekend, especially after it has identified a four-team parlay that could lead to a huge 13-1 payout. To see what that is, head on over to SportsLine.
"The Bengals just have a vibe to them that makes you feel extremely confident that they can go into any environment and pull out a win. They did so in a snowy Highmark Stadium last week and I expect more of the same when they stroll into Arrowhead Stadium for the AFC Championship game against the Chiefs.
"A lot will be made about Patrick Mahomes and his ankle injury, and I do believe that it will limit him some. His lethal ability to extend plays by running around in the pocket could be dampened. If that's the case, the opportunity for those back-breaking, momentum-shifting plays that the Chiefs quarterback always seems to pull out in the high-pressure moments could be nonexistent, which is a massive win for Cincinnati.
"Beyond the injury to Mahomes, the Bengals defense shouldn't be slept on. Yes, Joe Burrow should get his and continue to find success against Kansas City's defense, but this defensive group has a knack for shutting the door on opponents. This postseason, the Bengals have allowed zero fourth-quarter points. And that's no fluke. The Bengals ranked second in the NFL in the fewest fourth-quarter points allowed during the year. Translation: If you find yourself trailing the Bengals heading into the fourth quarter, you're toast.
"Offensively, I do think the Bengals can exploit a mediocre run defense of the Chiefs as well, which means another strong day from Joe Mixon. The Chiefs allowed 7.6 yards per carry in the divisional round against Jacksonville, meaning their middle-of-the-pack run defense has lost its way. For the second year in a row, Cincy comes out on top and advances to the Super Bowl." -- CBS Sports' Tyler Sullivan on why he has the Bengals covering over Kansas City. To see his NFC Championship pick, click here.
"I don't know about you, but I have a higher level of appreciation for Burrow after last week. The Bengals didn't just upset the Bills, they thrashed them. Joey Franchise made the Buffalo secondary look foolish, while the defense made Josh Allen look uncomfortable. Now, just like last year, the Bengals head to Arrowhead for the AFC Championship game.
"Burrow is 3-0 against Mahomes -- making him the only quarterback to defeat Mahomes three consecutive times. In all three games, the Bengals were either tied or trailing entering the fourth quarter. Burrow is averaging 327.3 passing yards per game against the Chiefs, and has accounted for nine total touchdowns compared to just one turnover. His 121 passer rating vs. Kansas City is Burrow's career best vs. any NFL opponent he's faced at least twice. Throw in the fact that Mahomes isn't 100 percent, and I don't know how I can bet against Burrow and the Bengals.
"Burrow vs. Mahomes is going to be what everyone talks about this week, but more attention should be given to the defenses. It will be either the Chiefs defense or Bengals defense that decides the day. Cincy's defense really surprised me last week against Buffalo. This unit recorded 21 pressures on Allen, which were the most pressures recorded by any team in the divisional round. D.J. Reader tied a career-high with five pressures, and then Mike Hilton accounted for four pressures. Hilton in particular was running all over the field, and I guarantee you he will make an impact on Sunday.
"I don't love the "Burrowhead" nickname and that Eli Apple is poking the bear on social media, but I just can't bet against the Bengals right now." -- CBS Sports NFL writer Jordan Dajani on why he is rolling with the Bengals. To see who he likes in 49ers-Eagles, click here.
Bengals at Chiefs total pick
"So we've established that Burrow can move the ball on the Chiefs, and that the Bengals have been able to stay balanced against them. And this version of the Chiefs defense might be the worst they have faced to date. Kansas City allowed 33 passing touchdowns this season -- the most in the NFL -- and the Bengals have a full assortment of offensive weapons that will leverage them in all quadrants of the field. Burrow can navigate the offensive line issues, his footwork is impeccable and they can win with yards after catch if need be.
"The Bengals live in 11 Personnel -- only Zac Taylor's mentor, Sean McVay, uses it more -- and the Chiefs have no answers for it. Here's how Burrow fared vs. K.C. in 11 Personnel (three games): 76/100, 885 yards, eight TDs, zero interceptions for a rating of 128.96.
"K.C. has faced more dropbacks than any team over the last two years (regular season and playoffs) and ranks 27th in opposing QB rating, 24th in completion percentage and has yielded a whopping 55 TD passes,11 more than any other team. The cold won't bother Burrow -- he's won the 11 coldest games he's played in and just sleighed his way through a snowstorm in Buffalo. I believe Taylor's offense can throw to a lead here and then grind its way to at least 27 points over the course of four quarters against a compromised defense." -- SportsLine's Jason La Canfora on why he is taking the Over on Cincinnati's team total of 23.5 points. To see some of his other top plays and picks for both conference title games, go check out SportsLine.
Best prop picks
Isiah Pacheco total rushing attempts: Over 11.5 (-127). No one expects Mahomes to be 100% healthy, right? Kansas City could look to lighten his load by leaning a bit more on the ground game with Pacheco. Since becoming the starter in Week 7, the rookie back has seen at least 12 carries in eight of his 12 games, including last week against Jacksonville.
Joe Mixon total rushing yards: Over 58.5 (-119). The Chiefs can be run on. Last week, they allowed the Jaguars to average 7.6 yards per carry. Cincinnati knows just as much, especially after Samaje Perine totaled 106 yards on the ground against this defense back in Week 13 filling in for the injured Mixon. With Mixon healthy and fresh off a strong showing against Buffalo, he enjoys another good day on the ground.
Ja'Marr Chase total receptions: Over 6.5 (-137). Chase has owned this matchup to this point in his career. In his previous three games against Kansas City (including playoffs), the wideout has hauled in 24 of his 29 targets (eight catches per game) for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Over his last six games, Chase is averaging 12 targets from Joe Burrow. So long as that volume stays the same, he'll have ample opportunity to go over 6.5.