The 2023 AFC Championship Game will mark the fourth meeting between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs in the last 12 months. Even though the Bengals have each of the previous three meetings, the point spread has favored the Chiefs in every single matchup, including Sunday’s game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
It looked like three straight victories over the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes’ sprained ankle would be enough for the Bengals to finally be favored against Kansas City. The Chiefs were underdogs for much of the week, but that quickly changed when Mahomes confidently addressed reporters and was a full participant in practice. Cincinnati is back to being a 1.5-point underdog before the AFC Championship Game starts Sunday evening.
Being underdogs doesn’t faze Joe Burrow and the Bengals. The team might even thrive off it, considering the quarterback’s response when asked about the fact that the NFL started selling tickets to a potential Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills AFC Championship Game. Cincinnati upset Buffalo in the divisional playoffs, preventing the matchup from happening.
The point spread might say that the Bengals are underdogs, though the Chiefs can find reasons to feel slighted. Most experts are predicting Cincinnati to beat Kansas City in the conference title game for a second straight year. The Chiefs are the No. 1 seed at home, yet the Bengals are the more popular pick among both media members and public bettors.
There is a growing discussion that Burrow, not Mahomes, might actually be the best quarterback in football. Mahomes is on the verge of winning his second regular-season MVP award and already has a Super Bowl MVP award on his resume. Mahomes led all players with 5,250 passing yards and 41 touchdowns in the 2022 campaign.
The Chiefs have hosted the AFC Championship Game in all five seasons that Mahomes has been the team’s starting quarterback. In three NFL seasons, Burrow has a 5-0 record against AFC opponents in the playoffs.
The Bengals have beaten the Chiefs by exactly three points in all three of their recent matchups. Kansas City blew a 14-point lead in the first meeting and an 18-point lead in last year’s AFC Championship Game. When the rivals met in Week 13 of this season, the Chiefs couldn’t hold onto a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Sunday’s winner will play either the San Francisco 49ers or Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.