After one of the greatest games in NFL playoff history–and perhaps one of the greatest games in NFL history–the AFC Championship Game matchup is set.
It took overtime and a superhero-like performance by Patrick Mahomes, but the Kansas City Chiefs are making their fourth straight AFC Championship Game appearance. The Chiefs, the second seed in the AFC, outlasted Josh Allen and the third-seeded Buffalo Bills 42-36 in a game that will go down in the NFL history books.
The Chiefs will play for their third straight AFC title against the Cincinnati Bengals, the #4 seed in the AFC. After breaking their three-decade playoff win drought against the Raiders in the wild-card round, the Bengals toppled the AFC’s top seed, the Tennessee Titans, on Saturday.
As is the case with the NFC Championship Game matchup, the two AFC title game participants advanced to conference championship weekend with walk-off wins but did so in drastically different fashion.
Burrow, Bengals Overcome Nine Sacks to Boot Titans in Nashville
With Derrick Henry returning after being sidelined since Halloween, the Titans had every reason to be confident of taking care of the Bengals to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
And more often than not, picking up nine sacks should lead you to a win. But the Bengals held Henry relatively in check and picked off Ryan Tannehill three times, and Joe Burrow brushed off his nine sacks to complete over 75 percent of his passes and throw for almost 350 yards.
Burrow’s 37th and final pass of the game put the Bengals in field goal territory after Logan Wilson picked off Tannehill with 20 seconds left. From there, rookie kicker Evan McPherson coolly drilled a 52-yard field goal to send the Bengals to their first AFC Championship Game since the 1988 season.
Chiefs Overcome Allen and Davis Heroics in Overtime Epic
The last time the Bengals were in the AFC Championship Game, they defeated the Buffalo Bills to advance to Super Bowl XXIII and a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
That same scenario was almost in play, but Mahomes decided to be Mahomes in a season where he hasn’t always been Mahomes. In other words, he was at his best when he needed to be.
In an absolutely unhinged final few minutes of regulation, the Bills and Chiefs traded blows. 24 points were scored in the final 1:54 of regulation. At the two-minute warning, the Chiefs led 26-21. With no time left in regulation, the two teams headed to overtime with the score tied at 36.
In that span of time, Josh Allen and Gabriel Davis hooked up for two touchdowns, sandwiched around a Mahomes-to-Tyreek Hill scoring play. The second score–their record fourth connection of the night–gave the Bills a 36-33 lead with 13 seconds left.
As viewers and the Bills found out, Mahomes only needed ten seconds to put the Chiefs in range for Harrison Butker’s game-tying kick.
The Chiefs won the all-important coin toss, and Mahomes proceeded to leave no chance for Allen to respond.
Was it the game of the year? Game of the century? Game of the history of the game? All could be applicable. Whatever the case, the Chiefs now have a chance to become the fourth team to win three or more consecutive AFC titles.
NFL Teams to Win Three or More Consecutive AFC Championship Game Wins
- Miami Dolphins (1971-1973 seasons)
- Buffalo Bills (1990-1993)
- New England Patriots (2016-2018)
Sunday’s Bengals-Chiefs matchup with extend a piece of history that the Chiefs already own. Last season, they became the first team to host the AFC title game three seasons in a row.
Across the two conferences, the Chiefs are the first team to host the conference title game four years straight. The Philadelphia Eagles hosted the NFC Championship Game in the 2002, 2003, and 2004 seasons. Will the Chiefs extend their record to five in a row next season?
Up first, we have an exciting matchup to look forward to in this year’s AFC Championship Game. It will be hard to live up to this past weekend’s NFL playoff results, and it won’t be easy to live up to the first Bengals-Chiefs game this season either.
The two teams met in Cincinnati in Week 17, and a record day for Ja’Marr Chase helped the Bengals rally for a 34-31 win. The Chiefs led 28-14 at one point, but Burrow (30 of 39, 446 yards, 4 TD) and Chase (11 catches, 266 yards, 3 TD) led the Bengals back for an AFC North-clinching win.
That result knocked the Chiefs out of top spot in the AFC, but thanks to the Bengals’ win in Nashville, Arrowhead Stadium will host one more game this season.
Thanks to that homefield advantage, early AFC Championship Game odds are very favorable for the Chiefs. Let’s take a look at how the odds shape up at BetMGM.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs AFC Championship Game 2022 Matchup Info and Betting Odds
- Game Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals (10-7, 1st in AFC North, #4 seed in AFC) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5, 1st in AFC West, #2 seed in AFC)
- Venue & Location: Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)
- Date: Sunday, January 30, 2022
- Time: 3:00 p.m. ET (2:00 p.m. local time)
- TV: CBS
Betting Odds (as of Sunday, January 30, at 6:55 a.m. ET)
- Spread: Cincinnati Bengals +7.5 (-115), Kansas City Chiefs -7.5 (-105)
- Total: OVER 54.5 (-110), UNDER 54.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Cincinnati Bengals +275, Kansas City Chiefs -350
Key AFC Championship Game History
Every season, the AFC champion meets the NFC champion in the Super Bowl. The first two rounds of the NFL playoffs, the wild-card round and the divisional round, determine the two teams in each conference that advance to the conference title round. Each conference championship game is hosted by the top remaining seed in each conference.
The first AFC title game was in the 1970 NFL season, following the AFL-NFL merger. That season, the Baltimore Colts (now the Indianapolis Colts) defeated the Oakland Raiders (now the Las Vegas Raiders) to advance to the Super Bowl. In the most recent AFC Championship Game, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills 35-31 at Arrowhead Stadium to win their second straight AFC title.
Last season’s loss was the Bills’ first appearance in the conference title tilt since the 1993 season, when they won the last of a record four straight AFC titles. The Miami Dolphins (1971, 1972, and 1973) and New England Patriots (2016, 2017, and 2018) are the only other teams with at least three straight AFC Championship Game wins, a feat that the Chiefs are looking to match this season.
Four matchups are level for the most common AFC title game matchup: Broncos-Browns, Colts-Patriots, Patriots-Steelers, and Raiders-Steelers, each of which has been the matchup three times.
Recent AFC Championship Game Results
- 2020 NFL season (at Kansas City): #1 Kansas City Chiefs 38, #2 Buffalo Bills 24
- 2019 (at Kansas City): #2 Kansas City Chiefs 35, #6 Tennessee Titans 24
- 2018 (at Kansas City): #2 New England Patriots 37, #1 Kansas City Chiefs 31 (OT)
- 2017 (at New England): #1 New England Patriots 24, #3 Jacksonville Jaguars 20
- 2016 (at New England): #1 New England Patriots 36, #3 Pittsburgh Steelers 17
- 2015 (at Denver): #1 Denver Broncos 20, #2 New England Patriots 18
- 2014 (at New England): #1 New England Patriots 45, #4 Indianapolis Colts 7
- 2013 (at Denver): #1 Denver Broncos 26, #2 New England Patriots 16
- 2012 (at New England): #4 Baltimore Ravens 28, #2 New England Patriots 13
- 2011 (at New England): #1 New England Patriots 23, #2 Baltimore Ravens 20
Most AFC Titles
- New England Patriots – 11
- Denver Broncos – 8
- Pittsburgh Steelers – 8
- Miami Dolphins – 5
- Buffalo Bills – 4
- Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders – 4
- Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts – 3
- Baltimore Ravens – 2
- Cincinnati Bengals – 2
- Kansas City Chiefs – 2
Most AFC Title Game Appearances
- Pittsburgh Steelers – 16
- New England Patriots – 15
- Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders – 11
- Denver Broncos – 10
- Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts – 7
- Miami Dolphins – 7
- Buffalo Bills – 6
- Kansas City Chiefs – 5
- Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans – 5
Are there any current AFC teams that have not won an AFC title? The Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Jets have all never won an AFC title. The Jets, however, did famously win Super Bowl III prior to the AFL-NFL merger.
Prior to winning Super Bowl 54 over the San Francisco 49ers, the Chiefs were also in that group. They won Super Bowl IV as the AFL champion in the final Super Bowl before the AFL-NFL merger, but they had come up empty in AFC Championship Game appearances in the 1993 and 2018 seasons.
Of the four teams that have never won the AFC Championship Game, the Houston Texans are the only team to never play for the conference title. The Texans, who have been in the NFL since 2002, have failed to make it past the divisional round of the playoffs in four tries.