AFC Championship Game 2022: Winner, Score Predictions for Bengals vs. Chiefs

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2022

AFC Championship Game 2022: Winner, Score Predictions for Bengals vs. Chiefs

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    A new challenger has arrived in the AFC Championship Game, with the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Kansas City Chiefs for the right to represent the conference in Super Bowl 56. 

    Led by Joe Burrow and a much-improved defense, the Bengals have officially arrived as a contender. After missing the playoffs completely in 2020, they have won the division, won their first playoff game in more than 30 years and dispatched the No. 1 seed. 

    Things will get even more difficult this weekend, though. The Chiefs will be playing in their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game and have the chance to reach a third straight Super Bowl. 

    It's a classic matchup of a proven contender meeting the new kids on the block, and the result should be a fun game for fans. 

    Here's a look at all the pertinent information to catch the game and a preview of what to expect. 


    2022 AFC Championship Game Info

    Date: Sunday, January 30

    Time: 3 p.m. ET

    TV and Live Stream: CBS, CBS All Access

    Line: Kansas City -7

    Over/Under: 54.5

    Odds via NFL" target="_blank">DraftKings Sportsbook.

When the Chiefs Have the Ball

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    So much of the attention for the Bengals this season has been focused on Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase, but the defense has been key, too. 

    Holding the Raiders to under 20 points and forcing two turnovers were pivotal factors in winning their first postseason matchup since January 2016. They then stonewalled Derrick Henry and picked off Ryan Tannehill three times to beat the Titans

    The level of difficulty is about to go up exponentially. While the Titans may have been the top seed, they were 19th in ESPN's FPI offensive efficiency metric, and the Raiders were 16th. The Chiefs clock in at No. 2 so it's safe to say this is a different beast. 

    But it isn't one Cincinnati hasn't seen before. The game between the two teams in Week 17 offers some insight into how they will match up. The Bengals gave up 28 points in the first half but tightened up in the second half, holding the Chiefs to just three additional points.

    That was enough to give the offense the opportunity to drive down for the game-winning field goal as time expired. 

    The most exceptional aspect of the Bengals' effort was limiting Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to a combined 11 catches for 65 yards. 

When the Bengals Have the Ball

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    Ja'Marr Chase. That's it. 

    The Bengals upset the Chiefs in Week 17 on the strength of a great second half from the defense and a dominant outing from the rookie wide receiver. He destroyed Charvarius Ward and the Chiefs secondary to the tune of 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 receptions. 

    Cincinnati didn't have a ton of success running the ball. Joe Mixon had just 46 yards on 12 carries, but it's clear the Chiefs are going to have to come up with a better plan for defending Chase. 

    Part of that has to fall on the defensive front. They have a good matchup in the Bengals offensive line. They took down Burrow four times in that game and will see a unit that obviously hasn't stepped up in the playoffs. 

    The quarterback was sacked nine times and lost 68 yards against the Titans. The Bengals were able to overcome that due to the poor play of Ryan Tannehill, but they won't get the same chances against Patrick Mahomes. 

Final Score Prediction

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    The Bengals shouldn't be taken lightly here. They are touchdown underdogs, but they do have a head-to-head win and the confidence that comes from taking out the No. 1 team in the conference. 

    However, despite the Titans owning the No. 1 seed, the Chiefs are still the team in the AFC. With the run they have been on with Mahomes at quarterback, they are the ultimate test for any opponent.

    The Bengals have the potential to be a problem for years to come. There's no denying Burrow has been great this season and the franchise has exorcised a lot of demons, but there's a reason the Chiefs are the favorite. 

    It's hard to believe the Bengals will keep Kelce and Hill in check as they did last time. It's also hard to envisage Chase having another epic performance. 

    That makes it hard to see the Bengals pulling off the upset again. 

    Chiefs 38, Bengals 28


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