The line for the Bengals-Chiefs AFC championship has seen plenty of movement since the matchup was finalized on Sunday. After videos of Patrick Mahomes taking part in practice have emerged, the Chiefs are back to being favorites to win.
BetMGM currently lists the Chiefs as 1-point favorites to edge the Bengals in the 2023 AFC Championship as the betting market has actively reacted to the injury updates around Mahomes, who was hurt during last Saturday’s divisional round win against the Jaguars.
When the lines initially came out, Kansas City was favored by a point to beat the Bengals. However, by Wednesday, sports books began to give Cincinnati the edge in the contest, shifting the line as far as 1.5 points in the Bengals’ favor. It was the first time in Mahomes’ career he was an underdog in the playoffs.
BENGALS-CHIEFS PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread
As would be expected, much of the line has hinged on Mahomes’ health. The star quarterback suffered a high ankle sprain in the win over Jacksonville, and though he played in the second half of the game, it was clear he was well below 100 percent.
The Chiefs never gave any indication Mahomes wouldn’t start, but that didn’t stop some speculation from taking place. There were also plenty of concerns about how an injury that normally can keep a player out for four to six weeks would impact a quarterback who is at his most dangerous when he uses his legs to improvise and escape the pocket.
But in the days leading up to the game, updates on Mahomes have been overwhelmingly positive. In perhaps the most anticipated walk to a podium in NFL history, observers noticed that Mahomes should no noticeable limp and had nothing on his ankle as he addressed the media on Wednesday. It wasn’t long after that that the line shifted to a pick ’em.
Mahomes practicing today.. plenty of rehab and rest to get to being “excited” to see how practice goes. #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/jn6OYnyhdu
— Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) January 25, 2023
MORE: Joe Burrow insists Chiefs ‘still the team to beat’
On Thursday, Mahomes warmed up in an open practice with all eyes on his movement, and by all accounts, he appeared to be looking normal to the reporters in attendance. Suddenly, the line jumped back to favoring the Chiefs.
Reporters were able to watch the individual drills in the open portion of today’s practice.
Patrick Mahomes looked pretty smooth in his 3-step dropbacks. Mahomes’ accuracy, even while moving, was excellent. pic.twitter.com/zvpm2lsokP
— Nate Taylor (@ByNateTaylor) January 26, 2023
There could still be more movement left to come in the betting line, as it has taken drastic shifts seemingly every day. If it sticks at just a single point, it would still be the best odds a Chiefs opponent in the playoffs will have been given to win since Mahomes took over in Kansas City. Previously, the best odds had been the 49ers as 1.5-point underdogs in Super Bowl 54, according to Stathead.
Even at just a point favorites, the line still indicates betting markets like the Bengals as a better team, as lines typically give extra points to the home team for having home-field advantage. According to data from Stathead, home teams were favored on average by 1.6 points in 2022, which suggests betting markets believe the game being held at “Burrowhead” will not be quite so beneficial to the Bengals after all.