Believe it Bengal fans, your Cincinnati Bengals are in the AFC Championship game for the first time since the 1988 season.
This Sunday the fourth-seeded Bengals face the second-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium. Kickoff is 3 p.m. Eastern time, with the game broadcast by CBS.
The winner is going to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in California.
It is expected that sports betting in Ohio will be available to players by the end of 2022.
Few were gambling on the Bengals to get this far.
The Bengals and star quarterback Joe Burrow have taken the NFL by storm in the playoffs, knocking off the Raiders in the Wild Card round and beating the top-seeded Tennessee Titans on a game-winning field goal by Evan McPherson on Saturday.
The Chiefs have been the powerhouse in the AFC. This is their fourth straight appearance in the AFC title game. The Patriots and Tom Brady hold the record with eight straight AFC title game appearances from 2011-2018.
Kansas City just nipped the Buffalo Bills, 42-36, in overtime in one of the best games in NFL history. The Chiefs are looking for their third straight spot in the Super Bowl.
These two franchises first met in 1968, but have never played in the playoffs before. The Bengals lead the all-time series 16-14.
The Bengals beat the Chiefs in Week 17 of the regular season, 34-31, with Burrow throwing for 466 yards and four scores.
What do the oddsmakers say?
The Barstool Sportsbook has the Chiefs as 7-point favorites and the over/under total pegged at 54.5. Tipico has a slightly different set of numbers with the Chiefs favored by 7.5 and the over/under a point lower.
The Bengals have gone 12-7 against the spread this season. They were underdogs to the Titans. The Chiefs are 10-9 against the spread in 2022.
Legal sports betting in Ohio is not available yet. However, news of a recent partnership between The Colombus Crew of MLS and Tipico means sports betting will launch soon.
Football at every level has become a quarterback-dominated game, and this game features two of the best in the NFL. Burrow, the Ohio native, has been a star these playoffs, while Mahomes has cemented his status as the best in the NFL.
Barstool has set numbers on just how many yards both are expected to throw for on Sunday. Burrow’s total is listed at 281.5. In his two post-season starts, Burrow has thrown for 244 and 348.
Mahomes’ figure is posted at 285.5. Sunday will be his 11th playoff start since taking over as the starter for the Chiefs in 2018. Of those 10 games, Mahomes has gone over 285.5 yards seven times, including four times over 300 yards.
In other words, both quarterbacks can sling it.
Bengal fans may be happy to note that there’s been a little bit of a trend in the 2021 playoffs when it comes to rematches from the regular season.
Teams that just played once in the regular season who won the first time have won two of the three rematches in the NFC. The Bucs beat the Eagles in the regular season and clobbered them in the playoffs.
The Rams beat the Bucs in the regular season and beat them in the playoffs. The NFC outlier is the 49ers, who lost to the Packers in the regular season, but won in the playoffs.
In the AFC, again it’s a 2-1 record for teams that won the only regular-season meeting. The Chiefs beat the Steelers in the regular season, won again in the playoffs.
The Bengals beat the Raiders in the regular season, won again in the playoffs. The AFC outlier is the Chiefs, who lost to the Bills in the regular season, but won the playoff game.
Talking it over/under
54.5 points is a big number but note that the Chiefs have gone over that figure in both of their playoff games. The Bengals have not.
At Arrowhead Stadium, this year, the Chiefs have only played games that went over 54.5 three times, and of their 19 total games, nine have superseded that number. Bengal games have gone over 54.5 six of 19 times.
In the regular season, the Bengals offense scored 27.1 points, while the Chiefs put up 28.2. Defensively, the Chiefs allowed 22.2, while the Bengals gave up 21.6.
The early weather forecast for Arrowhead couldn’t be much better for late January with temperatures in the mid-40s and sunny.
The biggest factor here might be the experience level for both teams, this is new territory for Burrow and the Bengals, while the Chiefs have been there, done that.
However, the Chiefs could be emotionally drained after their thrilling overtime win on Sunday night.