The Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs will square off for a highly anticipated AFC Championship Game rematch on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Cincinnati throttled the Buffalo Bills 27-10 as a six-point road underdog in the AFC Divisional Round, while the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs held off the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 at home.
After the Bengals’ blowout victory on Sunday, the Chiefs opened as up to three-point favorites — depending on the sportsbook — over Cincinnati in the AFC Championship Game. However, the betting line featured eye-opening movement on Monday.
The Bengals have gone from underdogs to up to 1.5-point favorites to beat the Chiefs in Kansas City.
🚨 The Bengals are now favorites against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship 🚨
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) January 23, 2023
Chiefs are now home underdogs for the AFC Championship 👀
— PFF Bet (@PFF_Bet) January 24, 2023
That’s quite a shift in one day, and there could be several reasons for the line movement.
The health of Patrick Mahomes stands out as potentially a huge reason, of course. Mahomes missed some time during Saturday’s win — and was replaced by Chad Henne, who led a 98-yard touchdown drive — due to a high-ankle sprain that did not look pretty.
This did NOT look good for Patrick Mahomes. He's staying in, for now. 🏈 pic.twitter.com/O4Ym5YPSiR
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) January 21, 2023
Mahomes said after the game that he’ll be “good to go”, and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid downplayed the severity of the injury on Monday. But, it’s hard to ever completely trust coachspeak on such topics, and oddsmakers may have heard more details on the injury, to go with bettors being skeptical.
"X-rays were negative. They haven't diagnosed anything yet. But I'll be good to go."- Patrick Mahomes to Melissa Stark on his injury. pic.twitter.com/OkmzUDtJpW
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 22, 2023
And then it’s possible that the betting community is just buying more into the Bengals’ success. After all, the Bengals won this same AFC Championship matchup in Kansas City on Jan. 30, 2022, and as seven-point underdogs. Joe Burrow and company have shown to step up on the big stage in brutal road environments, with the most recent example featuring remarkable dominance in Sunday’s win over the Bills.
Mahomes at less than 100%, to go with Burrow and the Bengals looking so good, have likely been the main reasons for substantial line shift.
Here’s a peek at how NFL fans and the betting world have reacted to the Bengals-Chiefs AFC Championship Game line movement:
The Cincinnati Bengals have moved to 1-point favorites at many sportsbooks.
If the line holds, it would be the first time in Patrick Mahomes' career that he's an underdog in the NFL Playoffs
— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkes22) January 23, 2023
Super Bowl winner updated
Cincinnati Bengals +260
Philadelphia Eagles +265
Kansas City Chiefs +280
San Francisco 49ers +315
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) January 23, 2023
Bengals are now 1 point favorites in Kansas City.
Bills were rated approx equivalent to healthy KC and closed -6 home to Cincy.
Bengals rating obviously goes up after Sunday and Mahomes injury is significant but the swing from Bills -6 to Chiefs +1 seems QUITE DRAMATIC.
— Jay Croucher (@croucherJD) January 23, 2023
91% of money & 85% of bets are on the Bengals ML in the AFC Championship 📈
— OddsChecker (@OddsCheckerUS) January 23, 2023
Bengals have been the NFL’s best team ATS and they’re now favored at KC. Are they finally earning appropriate respect? pic.twitter.com/IDaWWZztLT
— Doug Kezirian (@DougESPN) January 24, 2023
— John Ewing 🦁 (@johnewing) January 23, 2023
Update: On Tuesday, the Bengals moved up to 2.5-point favorites over the Chiefs at sportsbooks such as DraftKings and FanDuel.