AFC CHAMPIONSHIP 2022: PREDICTIONS & EXPERT TIPS

Betfair’s NFL analyst Tim Traynor makes his predictions and provides expert betting tips on the AFC Championship game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs. Who will advance to Super Bowl LVI? More below.



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The Kansas City Chiefs host their fourth consecutive AFC Championship game, taking on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals won their first playoff game since 1991 in the wildcard matchup with Las Vegas, while the Chiefs look to continue their dominance in the AFC.

The two teams did face off in week 17, with the Bengals taking the win with a walk off field goal as time expired. But that game took place in Cincinnati, and the young Bengals team will be up against it in front of arguably the league’s loudest crowd at Arrowhead Stadium.


The Chiefs overcame the Bills last week in what most are calling the game of the season, one that produced 25 points combined in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and a final drive that saw quarterback Patrick Mahomes get his team in position for a game tying field goal in less than 13 seconds.

Mahomes was able to throw for 378 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, also added 69 yards rushing against a Bills defence who played with two high safeties on 92% of the Chiefs offensive plays. It was a tactic that worked for the Bills and many other teams, including the Bengals, tried earlier in the season and caused Mahomes all kinds of trouble throughout the middle part of the season.

Mahomes has shown more patience against this scheme as the season has progressed, not attempting a pass with 20+ air yards for the first time in his career in last week’s win.

The Chief’s defence was amongst the worst in the league to start the season, but some midseason personnel changes were able to turn things around.

Short on edge rushers, the Chiefs were able to trade for former Steeler Melvin Ingram, which also saw star defensive lineman Chris Jones move back to the inside. Long time safety Daniel Sorensen was also benched for Juan Thornhill around the same time after a number of high profile blown coverages, with the changes prompting an extreme change in form on the defensive side of the ball.

During the offensive struggles the team faced through weeks 7-13, the defence allowed only 12.3 points per game and carried the offence, something that couldn’t be said in past seasons. The retooled pass rush will be up against a Bengals front line that allowed a playoff record of nine sacks last week and four sacks in the week 17 matchup.

Much was made of the Bengals decision to draft wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase over an offensive lineman in the first round after their then rookie quarterback took 32 sacks in his first 10 games before suffering a season ending injury.

While Chase broke a number of rookie records and looked like a future star, Burrow again was under constant pressure and amongst the league leaders in sacks taken. It didn’t take long for these issues to resurface last week, with the Titans’ pass rush breaking through on the first offensive snap of the game on their way to a record nine sacks.

While the Chiefs were able to create pressure in their last matchup with the Bengals, Burrow was still able to throw for 446 yards and four touchdowns. Chase was also able to put up career high numbers, posting 266 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Both players will likely need to have big games if the Bengals are to be successful.

The Bengal defence was able to limit Mahomes and the Chiefs offence in week 17 but were unable to record a sack or a turnover. They were able to limit big plays with a zone-heavy scheme and solid tackling, limiting Chiefs playmakers Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill to a combined 65 receiving yards.

They were also able to keep Mahomes in the pocket for the most part, limiting the highlight plays the former MVP can produce once he scrambles out into space. With the Chiefs likely to make adjustments, the Bengals will need to capitalise on chances for turnovers if they are to win.


  • Kansas City ranks sixth in pressure rate at 26.4%.

  • Kansas City have scored 28 or more points in their last seven games.

  • Kansas City led the league in yards after the catch with 2,700 yards.

  • The Bengals are fourth in the league in yards after the catch with 2,423 yards.

  • The Bengals are 31st in the league in sack rate allowed with 9.5%.

  • The Bengals rank 18th for turnovers caused at 21.


THE VERDICT

Cincinnati was able to keep pace with the Chiefs in their last matchup off the back of some highlight plays from Ja’Marr Chase, who finished with 153 yards after the catch. At the same time, they were able to contain Kansas City’s two explosive playmakers, with Hill and Kelce recording 28 yards after the catch between them.

With this unlikely to happen again, the Bengals will need to create turnovers to keep check of this explosive Chiefs offence. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs should have too much firepower for this young Bengals team and should make their third straight Super Bowl appearance.

Betting Strategy

 BACK: Kansas City Chiefs -7.0


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