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Chiefs vs. Bengals: Game and score predictions

Let’s see what Arrowhead Pride contributors — and our readers — think about Sunday’s AFC Championship.

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In the Divisional round matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, two of Arrowhead Pride's contributors picked Buffalo to win — and almost all of those who picked the Chiefs thought it would be a close game. So our composite prediction for a 33-30 Kansas City victory was 18 points removed from the team's 42-36 overtime win. More of our readers — about one in five — thought the Bills would win. About half thought the Chiefs would win a close one.

So now it's on to the AFC Championship, in which the Chiefs face the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored by seven points. Let's see what the staff — and our readers — think about the matchup.

Tom Childs (@tomchilds56)

I deserved every single bit of criticism I received last week. It was silly to doubt Playoff Patrick — and I won't be doing it again. After what we saw last week, the Chiefs simply cannot lose this game. A loss at this point would result in this season being classed as a missed opportunity — even a failure. I just can't see the Chiefs allowing that to happen. Chiefs 35, Bengals 24

John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)

Since Patrick Mahomes became the starting quarterback, the Chiefs are 3-1 in postseason games in which their opponent defeated them in the regular season. So it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Cincinnati could figure out a way to beat Kansas City on Sunday. But in the 2020 postseason — especially in the Super Bowl — it always seemed to me that the Chiefs were too wound up. I see no sign of that this season. The team is focused — but it's also loose, having fun and playing to its potential. The Bengals aren't going to roll over — but they aren't going to roll into Los Angeles, either. Chiefs 31, Bengals 24

Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34)

The Chiefs are hosting their fourth straight AFC Championship, a feat that has never before been accomplished — and one that may not ever be matched. Kansas City gets another chance against the Bengals after losing to Cincinnati in their Week 17 matchup. I respect what the Bengals have accomplished this season, but there is too much riding on this contest for the Chiefs to make the same silly mistakes that led to the previous loss. The defense should shake up how they approach this one — especially the number of times they blitz and how they cover Ja'Marr Chase; I can't imagine Chase has another day with over 250 yards. I also doubt that Kansas City will score only three points in the second half. These were all pivotal aspects of the first game. Patrick Mahomes and the offense are absolutely cooking right now — so in this scenario, the Chiefs are just too overwhelming for the up-and-coming Bengals. Chiefs 34, Bengals 20

Kristian Gumminger (@kgumminger)

For this matchup, it's pretty simple for me: the Chiefs are the better team. The Chiefs are the home team. The Chiefs have both the quarterback and coaching advantage. The Chiefs are going to win. The Bengals just don't scare me. On offense, they rank 18th in efficiency but 25th on the road. Burrow and Chase scare you, but the line doesn't — and the coaches do nothing to help the line protect Burrow. On defense, there are a few good players — but none that really scare you. After the Chiefs just handled T.J. Watt and the diverse Bills defensive line, relying on Trey Hendrickson to wreck the Kansas City offensive line won't be enough. And after the Chiefs went toe-to-toe with the Bills' first-ranked defense, the Bengals' 24th-ranked defense (according to DVOA) just doesn't scare me Finally... the coaching advantage. There is a lot of talk about "emotional letdown" after Kansas City's Divisional round win. Did people forget who leads this team? After the win, Andy Reid addressed the team with eyes on this game. As fans, we can talk about 13 seconds — but this time, the Chiefs are planning on putting their opponent down early. See you all in LA! Chiefs 34, Bengals 20

Mark Gunnels (@MarkAGunnels)

For me, this one is simple. Come Sunday, the Chiefs will have been in this game for four years in a row — while the Bengals haven't been here once. Sure... the Bengals won their head-to-head meeting less than a month ago. But it took a historical performance by Ja'Marr Chase — and a lot of questionable calls — to only win by three. Last week, Joe Burrow was sacked nine times. I'm not expecting nine sacks, but if the Chiefs can get constant pressure on Burrow — and force his team into punts — that bodes well for Patrick Mahomes and his offense. I think the Chiefs roll. Chiefs 45, Bengals 24

Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)

In regular-season circumstances — if the Chiefs were still high from an unbelievable win — this would be the perfect opportunity for a letdown game. The Bengals are playing with house money. It's a young team (with a young coach) playing well over its expectations from the beginning of the season — or even a few months ago. That makes them scary for a team that could overlook them. But this is the AFC Championship — and this Chiefs team is still motivated. They are hungry to prove they're the best of the best. Kansas City comes out with momentum carried over from the previous game, controlling this contest throughout. A few significant sacks make for great Arrowhead moments. Chiefs 40, Bengals 21

Aaron Ladd (@aaronladd0)

WHEW! What a ride the Chiefs-Bills game was. 13 seconds. Grim Reaper. 'Do it Kels!' Whatever you want to call it, the Divisional round game was special for Kansas City. Motivated by a tie-or-die sensation, I think Mahomes and company find a different gear against Burrow's Bengals. "We're not done," Mahomes told reporters on Wednesday. Motivated by that clean-out-your-locker feeling (that I believe many around the Kingdom experienced with 13 seconds remaining) and undefeated in rematches this season, I like Kansas City comfortably advancing to a third consecutive Super Bowl. Chiefs 35, Bengals 21

Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana)

There are many things different between this game and the one these two teams played in Week 17. First off, there is a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Second, the Chiefs are playing at home. Neither of these factors bodes well for the Bengals. Cincinnati may be the young hot upstart team — but at this stage in the postseason, experience matters. There is no NFL team more battle-tested than the Chiefs — and head coach Andy Reid has his guys peaking at just the right time. I think Steve Spagnuolo will have a game plan for Ja'Marr Chase — and by a game plan, I mean he will drop seven guys into coverage and make Burrow go the length of the field. I don't believe the Bengals have an answer for our front four, so I would expect a big game from Sack Nation. In the offense, Patrick Mahomes has ascended to a plane of consciousness similar to Neo in The Matrix — where the game has slowed down so much that he can bend the rules of physics as he sees fit. This — coupled with the rest of the team's pure will to win — makes Kansas City nearly unbeatable at this moment. I think the Chiefs cruise to victory, punching their ticket to Los Angeles in a relatively calm affair. Chiefs 31, Bengals 20

Kramer Sansone (@KramerTalks)

I believe the Chiefs will continue their hot hand on Sunday; a week ago, 13 seconds was all it took to win the game from their own 25-yard line. I don't see the Chiefs trailing at all — and the only way for the Bengals to even come close to winning is to go over the top. I don't see that happening. You also have to consider that it is extremely hard to defeat Andy Reid twice in one season. Chiefs 35, Bengals 17

Jared Sapp (@TrumanChief)

There has been too much revisionist history regarding the meeting a month ago; the national media has been forgetting how much had to go right for the Bengals to come out on top. I think this game plays out much like the previous two AFC Championship games: a competitive game in the first quarter — and then the Chiefs pull away as the game goes on. Kansas City will play smart on both sides of the ball and will advance to their third consecutive Super Bowl. Joe Burrow will be under heavy pressure for the second week in a row. The Bengals' offense will have its moments, but the defense will not keep the Chiefs from being more successful. A late Cincinnati score will make the game appear closer than it really was. Chiefs 37, Bengals 24

Stephen Serda (@StephenSerda)

In the Week 17 contest between these two teams, I have to believe the Chiefs overlooked the Bengals a little bit. Ja'Marr Chase is a total superstar — and heading into that game, it feels like the Chiefs slept on his talent. Burrow may eat a lot of sacks, but that doesn't seem to affect his confidence or thought process during a game — which is unbelievable. This Bengals team is young and ready to compete, but they had the easiest path in the AFC playoffs — and this time, the Chiefs won't sleep on them. At the end of the day, the Chiefs' talent and playoff experience will just be too much for the Bengals to handle. Chiefs 42, Bengals 28

Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)

It's going to be tough to top that Divisional round game. Many called it the "true AFC Championship game" — with the assumption that the winner would go on to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in a few weeks. The game turned out to be insane — and to a lesser team, it could lead to a letdown. But at this point, I think this Chiefs team has seen it all — and they'll keep their eyes on the real prize ahead. In the regular-season matchup, the Bengals team found ways to win — aided by five attempts at a game-winning touchdown before kicking the field goal that did win it. That game should be remembered as the one where they kept the ball out of Mahomes' hands for most of the fourth quarter; the Chiefs had no chance to respond. The Chiefs will get that chance now — and I have a feeling they will capitalize in a big way. Make no mistake about it: this season, its historical context and the way we all feel about it will be dramatically altered if the Chiefs don't win this game. Win the AFCCG and Super Bowl, and the Buffalo win is etched in history. Lose either game, and it becomes a fluky win in a failure of a season. But these guys aren't done yet — and Mahomes still has plenty he wants to prove. Look for him to have another over-my-dead-body game, with the supporting cast executing on a high level. The Bengals may still score, but the Chiefs' offense will score more. Kansas City advances to the Super Bowl — and it may be a more comfortable win than many expect. Chiefs 42, Bengals 31

Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_)

The Chiefs lost to the Bengals just a few short weeks ago in an incredibly frustrating contest that ultimately cost Kansas City the No. 1 seed in the AFC. But forget all this talk about a potential letdown game. There will be no dropoff. Kansas City — as it has done in previous years — will ride the momentum of what transpired this past Sunday to a convincing AFC Championship victory. Look for Patrick Mahomes to string together another sturdy, three or four-touchdown performance — while defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo relies on a deep four-man pass rush to make Joe Burrow uncomfortable. Bengals' wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase will not be left in single coverage very often — if at all. Chiefs 35, Bengals 23

Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)

My Week 17 call turned out dead wrong. (I predicted a 13-point win instead of the actual three-point loss). But about a month later — and with much more on the line — I don't feel all that different about the matchup. And it's because so much (from penalties to the game of Ja'Marr Chase's life to the Chiefs' working through COVID issues) had to break the Bengals' way for them to win... by three points. Now they're in Arrowhead, and I still think the major key to the game is the Kansas City front four against a Cincinnati offensive line that gave up nine sacks last week. I like the Chiefs' line to dominate, with a special nod to Melvin Ingram, who — in his ninth year in the league — will play in his first AFC title game (I like the veteran to get home twice). That advantage — and Mahomes seemingly "figuring out what it was that figured him out" means the Grim Reaper is in line to bury another team's dreams. The Chiefs win the rematch. Chiefs 34, Bengals 21

Ethan Willinger (@ecwillinger)

Kansas City's 13-second comeback against the Bills is one of the more impressive feats you'll see in professional sports. While the Chiefs were favored in the game, some have likened their heroics at the end of regulation to the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team. Given the American team’s overwhelming underdog status in Lake Placid, the comparison may be inappropriate. However, one thing is for sure: like the Miracle on Ice team, the Chiefs still have more work to do following their unbelievable win. After their unprecedented victory over the Soviet Union, the U.S. hockey team still had to top Finland in the championship game. Similarly — after their emotional win over the Bills — the Chiefs have two games standing between them and a Lombardi Trophy. Like the Miracle on Ice, those thirteen seconds at Arrowhead may become the defining moment of a championship push — but what comes after is just as important. The Bengals are a talented, up-and-coming team — but I think a Divisional round hangover is the only thing that can tank Kansas City on Sunday. Fortunately, they have the look of a team that is just getting started. I think the Chiefs still have 120 minutes of championship ball left in them. Chiefs 34, Bengals 23


Who wins Bengals (12-7) at Chiefs (14-5)?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Chiefs in a blowout (14 or more points)
    (668 votes)
  • 50%
    Chiefs in an easy win (8-13 points)
    (1574 votes)
  • 20%
    Chiefs in a close game (7 or fewer points)
    (638 votes)
  • 4%
    Bengals in a close game
    (150 votes)
  • 0%
    Bengals in an easy win
    (21 votes)
  • 1%
    Bengals in a blowout
    (36 votes)
3087 votes total Vote Now

2021 Standings

TW LW Staffer W L Pct Err
1 2 Kristian Gumminger 15 4 0.7895 29.9
2 1 Tom Childs 15 4 0.7895 32.7
3 3 Talon Graff 14 5 0.7368 28.6
4 4 Bryan Stewart 14 5 0.7368 29.1
4 5 Rocky Magaña 14 5 0.7368 29.1
6 6 Jared Sapp 14 5 0.7368 30.8
7 7 Mark Gunnels 14 5 0.7368 31.6
8 9 Pete Sweeney 14 5 0.7368 33.5
9 10 Matt Stagner 14 5 0.7368 34.0
10 11 John Dixon 13 6 0.6842 29.6
11 12 Stephen Serda 13 6 0.6842 29.8
12 13 Ethan Willinger 13 6 0.6842 32.0
13 8 Kramer Sansone 13 6 0.6842 34.0
14 14 Ron Kopp Jr. 12 7 0.6316 34.4

Ties in the standings are broken with prediction points error — how much each prediction misses the actual point spread and the number of points scored by each team.

In the Divisional round, Arrowhead Pride writer Rocky Magaña picked up his third win of the season. His call for a 38-34 win carried just eight points of error. Mark Gunnels and Stephen Serda were right behind. Their 38-31 and 33-37 picks each missed by 10 points. Since Tom Childs was one of those who predicted the Bills would win, he lost his grip on first place in our standings, giving way to Kristian Gummiger.

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