AFC Championship Game Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs Betting Analysis and Prediction

Date IconLast Updated: Sep 21st, 2023
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AFC Championship Game Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs Betting Analysis and Prediction
© USA Today

It’s a great NFL betting weekend, starting with the AFC championship, featuring the Cincinnati Bengals at the Kansas City Chiefs kicking off 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

The Bengals won their first playoff game in 31 seasons when they defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19 and covered the spread by a single point as they came in as 6-point home favorites.

Last week, Cincinnati took to the road and defied the odds, defeating the No.1-seed Tennessee Titans 19-16 as a four-point underdog.

Can the Bengals Newbie Get It Done in Kansas City?

The Bengals are led by second-year quarterback and budding superstar Joe Burrow, who took LSU to the National Championship just three years ago before becoming the first overall selection by the Bengals in the 2019 draft.

The line for the AFC Championship game opened with the Chiefs priced as a seven-point home favorite and has remained mostly unchanged through the week of betting action.

Thursday saw many sportsbooks move to –7.5 points on the point spread, which was greeted with an increased volume of bets on the Bengals and forced the lines back to seven.

The market is unlikely to move lower knowing that there are large groups of bettors looking to bet on the Chiefs at 6.5-points. The sportsbooks would then have risks on both sides of the seven-point level. The NFL has played 282 games this season and an exact margin of seven points occurred in 19 or 6.7% of those games.

The Quarterbacks in this matchup and their Small Hands

In the NFL combine, which is a showcase of football players looking to get drafted as high as possible, scouts from every franchise measure everything possible, including some esoteric ones, like hand sizes.

So, a spread hand size that is not equal to or greater than 9.5 inches from pinky to thumb has raised red flags in the quarterback position. Drew Brees, who was considered too small in height to be an NFL quarterback, had an enormous hand size of more than 10 inches. Chiefs 'superstar field general Patrick Mahomes has a 9.5-inch hand size and Burrows is even smaller at just 9 inches.

By definition, a football is a prolate-shaped spheroid, largest in the middle and smallest at the ends. Mahomes and Burrows hold the football closer to the end or the nose, so that they can get a solid grip to throw the ball.

The raised laces on the football provide extra grip, like the seams on a baseball, to get higher speeds and revolutions. Burrows and Mahomes have adjusted, and they rarely ever have their index fingers on the laces and most times, only the fourth and fifth digits are on the laces. Both can throw the ball extremely hard when needed and are equal to the highest speeds in the NFL. So, they have evolved the quarterback position making hand size irrelevant in today’s game.

The Breakdown of the AFC Championship Game

The Bengals are a hot and confident team, having covered the spread in their past six games. In playoff betting history, teams riding a five or more game against the spread (ATS) win streak have earned a 19-8 straight-up (SU) record and are 16-11 ATS for 59.3% winning bets over the last 20 playoff seasons. Teams riding a six or more-game ATS win streak are 12-6 SU and 11-7 ATS for 61% winning bets over the last 20 seasons. So, the data is already making me interested in betting the Bengals.

The Bengals offense ranked seventh in the NFL, gaining an average of 361.5 yards per game, including sack yards lost during the regular season. They ranked seventh in scoring offense averaging 27.1 points per game during the regular season.

The Chiefs ranked fourth in net total offense, averaging 396.8 yards per game and fourth in scoring offense, averaging 28.2 points per game during the regular season.

Let’s see what betting intelligence we can pull from the vast database of statistics, metrics, and ratios.

The Chiefs have gained 450 or more total yards in each of their last three games, including the last game of the regular season. At the NFL level, that alone is an elite level of accomplishment, but we are about to find out that even the elite teams of the NFL are prone to regression.

In the regular and playoff seasons, teams averaging a minimum of 385 yards per game and have gained over 450 yards in each of their last three games are a money-burning 9-30 ATS for 23% over the past 25 seasons. That means betting against the Chiefs in their current form has produced 77% winning bets. Moreover, the Chiefs are a horrid 1-15 ATS following a single game in which they gained 450 or more total yards.

The betting markets show that 73% of the wagers made this week have been on the Chiefs, but the market has not moved from its seven-point opening level. The only way the market would not have moved higher is that the ‘sharps’ or large bettors are getting on the Bengals.

Our Pick for the AFC Championship

I like the Bengals and taking the seven points and adding a pizza-money (small bet) on the moneyline looking for the upset Bengals win. After all, the Chinese New Year is approaching and the New Year is the year of the Bengal Tiger.