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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 23: Head Coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs looks over the playbook during the game against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by JAMIE SQUIRE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Is there any way for Championship Weekend in the NFL to live up to the magic we witnessed throughout the Divisional Round? If so, it starts with the two quarterbacks squaring off in the AFC Championship. Find out where we lean with our Cincinnati Bengals-Kansas City Chiefs NFL picks.

How in the world did we get here? That’s probably Josh Allen’s question, anyway, still waiting for his chance to touch the football in overtime of one of the greatest games in the history of the NFL.

Forget hyperbole, too. Anyone who experienced it in real-time would agree that there aren’t many games they’ve ever seen, from a perspective of pure excitement and elite offensive football, that could top it. Now, the Chiefs have to get their collective heart rates back down to normal for a moment before stepping back into the ring to take on another heavyweight gunslinger in the AFC Championship.

The Bengals vanquished the King, as Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry wasn’t a problem for a Cincy defense that played scrappy and hungry in the Divisional Round. Bengals QB Joe Burrow now has another beast to slay in Patrick Mahomes. Good luck, young buck.

Of course, the Bengals have already beaten the Chiefs once this year. They took down KC 34-31 in Week 17. That robbed the Chiefs of their standing as the top-seeded team in the AFC. However, that game wasn’t at Arrowhead Stadium.

Sunday's road matchup will be a whole new animal for the Bengals and their second-year quarterback. Rolling into Arrowhead with a 12-7 record against the spread this season could force bettors to give Cincy a long look, especially considering the substantial point spread in favor of the Chiefs.

Here are my picks and predictions for the AFC Championship between the Bengals and Chiefs (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Bengals vs. Chiefs Game Info

Date/Time: Sunday, Jan 30, 3 p.m. ET.TV: CBSLocation: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MOWeather: 47 degrees, 0% precipitation, 6 mph winds

Bengals vs. Chiefs Odds Analysis

The Chiefs opened at -7 at the major US Sportsbooks and have remained locked at that number throughout the week. There's been no change despite a significant slant for the money being wagered on KC. Sixty-nine percent of tickets have gone on the Chiefs, with the sharps piling it on at even greater quantities. Eighty percent of the cash has been thrown down on KC -7.

We’ve seen more movement on the total since it opened at 53.5 at DraftKings. Early money poured in on the Over to push the total up to 54.5, where it has remained through Thursday morning. Even with that gaudy total, John Q. Public is looking for points. Eighty-two percent of tickets and 77% of the money is devoted to the Over.

Bengals Betting Preview

Record: 12-7 SU, 12-7 ATS, 8-11 O/UKey Players: QB Joe Burrow, WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR Tee Higgins, RB Joe Mixon, LB Logan Wilson, DE Trey HendricksonNotable Trend: Bengals are 5-1 ATS as road underdogs, winning four of those six games outright

Last week, we expected the story of a Bengals upset victory over the Titans to run through the arm of Burrow and the explosive weapons scattered throughout the Cincinnati offense. Turns out, the Bengals can win games in more ways than one.

The Cincinnati defense picked off Titans QB Ryan Tannehill three times and held Henry to 3.1 yards per carry to survive in a low-scoring slog in Nashville. Though defense wasn’t the narrative that got the Bengals to this point, it was impressive to see that unit rise to the occasion. To keep up with the Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead, you better believe Burrow and Co. will have to take on more of the load.

While the Bengals poured it on against the Chiefs once already this season, the circumstances were different. That game took place in Cincinnati.

It’s hard to imagine the Bengals winning with defense for two weeks in a row. You’re not holding Mahomes to 16 points in his home stadium. It’s just not happening. 

Chiefs Betting Preview

Record: 14-5 SU, 10-9 ATS, 12-7 O/UKey Players: QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce, WR Tyreek Hill, S Tyrann Mathieu, LB Nick BoltonNotable Trend: Chiefs have averaged 33.2 PPG in playoff games with Mahomes at QB. Best in NFL history, min. five starts.

The Chiefs are riding high into the AFC Championship. There’s an aura surrounding this team that suggests their unlikely miracle win at Arrowhead last weekend is merely a stepping stone to something greater.

Offensively, the Chiefs are back to looking like an unstoppable force. The greatness of star players like Mahomes, Kelce, and Hill was on display late in the fourth quarter and in overtime last week. The Chiefs aren’t where they are without their stars and team leaders. What brings the lethal nature of the Chiefs offense to an entirely new level, though, is the way the ancillary pieces have evolved into critical roles for the team.

Guys like Byron Pringle, Mecole Hardman, Jerick McKinnon, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire have found their niches and have contributed in meaningful ways as cogs for the grand machine. With added confidence in the depth of the offense, Mahomes has looked comfortable relying upon a wider variety of weapons. That’s a dangerous notion for those tasked with slowing down the best quarterback in the world. 

On the other side of the ball, the defense wasn’t exactly a point of pride in last week’s 42-36 win over Buffalo, but there’s reason to believe that changes this week. Chiefs CB Rashad Fenton is expected to return after missing the last two playoff games due to a back issue. He practiced in full on Wednesday. Mathieu suffered a concussion in the win over the Bills, but tweeted Wednesday, "I got this!" as reports suggested he will suit up for the AFCCG.

Bengals vs. Chiefs Picks

Chiefs -7 (-110) ????Under 54.5 (-115) ??Alternate first-quarter line: Chiefs -3.5 (+125) ???Travis Kelce first TD (+650) ??Same-game Parlay: Bengals Under 24.5 team total, Chiefs Over 23.5 team total, C.J. Uzomah Over 19.5 receiving yards, Byron Pringle anytime TD (+625) ??

SEE ALSO: 2022 Super Bowl Odds from Preseason to Now

Bengals vs. Chiefs Predictions

Chiefs -7 (-110)

The Bills are going to go down as the most significant opponent the Chiefs will have faced en route to the AFC title. It’s not a slight to the Bengals, who absolutely deserve to be here following a resurgent season; however, slaying the dragon that's Allen was as difficult a task as KC will find in this year’s playoffs. 

Cincy accomplished so much. The Bengals knocked off a No. 1 seed that probably didn’t get as much respect as it deserved. Despite the narratives that surrounded their presence as the top seed, the Titans were legitimately good. The Bengals were better. 

The Chiefs are best.

Kansas City showed last Sunday that the explosive offense it made famous upon the arrival of Mahomes is still there for the Chiefs, bubbling beneath the surface whenever they need it. This coming weekend in the AFC Championship, I expect the Chiefs to display the true strength of their defense in a similar fashion.

The likely returns of Fenton and Mathieu will be critical for the Chiefs toward slowing down the potent passing attack of the Bengals. Not to mention, the Bengals’ offensive line was a considerable problem last week. I imagine Burrow spent his fair share of time in the ice bath after taking nine sacks.

Then consider the matchup of the Chiefs’ front seven against the Bengals' 23rd-ranked rushing average on the season. Even when the Bengals knocked off the Chiefs on Jan. 2, KC bottled up Mixon for 46 rushing yards.

Kansas City is going to win this game going away, punching its ticket to the Super Bowl in a much more controlled fashion than the frenetic pace that accompanied last week’s win. We're picking the Chiefs -7 against the Bengals.

Under 54.5 (-115)

This isn’t going to be popular. This isn’t going to be fun. I’m generally a proponent of the phrase 'Life's too short to bet Unders.' But … man, this number is huge. Gulp. We’re going in.

Here’s the thing. Mahomes vs. Burrow absolutely could be The Godfather Part ll of football games. After the glorious nature of last Sunday, it feels like it just couldn’t be as simple as another remarkable shootout. Could it? The public seems to think so, hammering the Over all week as the line moved from 53.5 to 54.5.

Look, it’s not as though the Bengals are this unstoppable force offensively. Sure, Burrow is as dangerous as any quarterback in football. But did the Titans’ defense not just hold him without a passing touchdown in the Divisional Round? The Bengals offense as a whole found the end zone just once in a 19-point performance.

We know what this offense can be. Burrow probably has a more productive game than he did last week. The Bengals should be able to crack 20 points. But I don’t expect much more than that against a Chiefs defense that should be back to full strength, playing rowdy in front of their home fans.

This is just a two-star play, but unless we see the total dip back down below 54, the Under is definitely my lean for our Bengals-Chiefs picks.

Alternate first-quarter line: Chiefs -3.5 (+125)

Here’s a call for how this game is going to begin: the Chiefs are going to come out firing.

Though Kansas City lost to this Cincinnati team earlier in the season, it didn’t happen because of any sluggish start. On the contrary, Kansas City piled up four first-half touchdowns.

The Chiefs will look to avoid repeating the second-half script that saw them get just three points on three offensive possessions, but the early offensive fireworks? They want to keep that energy.

So basically, pick right up where they left off in the final minutes of last Sunday’s win over the Bills. That entire game was the Chiefs offense at its finest. While I don’t know that Kansas City will display that same efficiency all game long against Cincy, I do think we'll see it on their early drives to open the game to start our Bengals-Chiefs picks off right.

Kelce first TD (+650)

At DraftKings, Kelce is the second-most likely player to score the first touchdown in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. At +650, he’s the first player off the board on the Chiefs' side, with Mixon the only name listed above his.

If you want to play things a little safer with your Bengals-Chiefs picks, Kelce is +380 to be the first TD scorer for KC, specifically. Given that my lean is with the Chiefs starting fast out of the gate, though, I’m expecting KC to score the game’s first touchdown. So that means we’re soaking up this Kelce play in all of its plus-money glory.

Kelce reminded the world on the game-winning drive last Sunday that he’s still as good of a red zone tight end as exists in the NFL today. The route-running, the footwork, the hulking target for his quarterback to find, and the athleticism to go make a play on any football in his radius.

The desire to leap out to a strong start on Sunday should mean Mahomes will be dialed into his best red-zone target from the jump, giving Kelce a solid chance at making you some money with this exciting dart throw play. Considering Kelce’s touchdown last week was the play that closed out one of my parlays (paired with Gabriel Davis 2-plus TDs at +2600), I know a thing or two about leaning on Kelce to clinch a winning wager. It’s really freakin' fun.

Same-game parlay (+625)

I’ve already articulated my belief that the Bengals aren’t going to have the same degree of offensive success as they enjoyed the last time they faced the Chiefs. The Kansas City defense will be eager to force turnovers and make Burrow pay for any mistakes. Though Evan McPherson is bound to boot a couple of long kicks through to get the Bengals on the board, I don’t see them scoring the necessary htree-plus TDs to eclipse 24.5 points.

For the Chiefs, it’s the opposite. With the DraftKings line on Chiefs team TDs set at 3.5, I’d be downright stunned if they pile up fewer than three. Add on a Harrison Butker field goal at some point, and you’re Over the 23.5 for this alt line.

Then there’s Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah, who has been a significant factor in the Bengals’ passing game in both of their playoff wins. The man has gone for 64 yards and 71 yards on a total of 13 receptions. Burrow trusts Uzomah too much for the tight end not to clear 20 yards in the biggest game of the season.

None of those first three legs are what makes this SGP so bold, however. The big odds jump comes from Leg No. 4, which states that Pringle will find the end zone for the third straight playoff game. The Chiefs receiver caught two touchdowns in the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and found paydirt again against the Bills.

He’s had five total touchdowns over his previous five games, and has increasingly become a significant portion of the KC passing offense throughout that stretch. Look for Pringle to mingle with the fans in the front row following another big touchdown to cash our Same-game Parlay for the second week in a row.

SEE ALSO: All picks and odds. Be sure to check out's community forums and betting tools.

Bengals-Chiefs picks made on 1/27/2022 at 1:06 a.m. ET.