Tony’s Picks: Conference Championships58 replies
Tony tells you where to put your money for this week’s NFL games.
49ers over Eagles
Let’s keep this short, since the next pick is the one we really care about, and it’ll be quite thorough. I’m picking the 49ers because I simply believe they’re the better team. The only argument against them in my mind is that Purdy hasn’t been as good as their record would suggest, but I don’t think he’s that bad either, so I’ll go with San Francisco.
Chiefs over Bengals
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a point spread for a game shift as wildly as it has for this game. Of course, it’s all about the ankle. I myself came out of the Jaguars game thinking that this would be a rare case where I picked against the Chiefs, since Mahomes looked rough after the injury and the Bills and Bengals are both legit teams.
But not only is Mahomes looking much better than expected, I think the Bengals hype has gotten a little out of control. People are acting like they’re the greatest team ever, as if we aren’t a week removed from tweets like this.
That’s not to say the Bengals suck, but they’re not an unbeatable ultra-mega team either. So this game deserves some deep thought.
Firstly, let’s address the second reason why people are behind the Bengals, their 3-0 record against the Chiefs the past two years. I’m a big believer in matchup history, to the point where my picks are almost entirely matchup history plus quarterback. And the 3-0 does make me nervous.
But that 3-0 is a bit of a mirage. Usually I want a bit more dominance in my history when counting on it, but in this case all 3 games were won by a mere 3 points. 9 points in over 12 quarters isn’t exactly dominating. If it was 9 points per game, then fine, but 9 in total?
And I’m not the only one who’s pointing this out.
To me, this history is not enough to automatically pick the Bengals as I normally would with that kind of 3-0 record.
Next to consider is the Bengals offense, specifically their offensive line. I went and rewatched the regular season game and their offense dominated much more than the 27 points would suggest. Our defense has to do better or else this could get ugly fast.
But there is hope. As much attention as the Mahomes injury is getting, the Bengals have injury problems of their own on their offensive line. People aren’t talking about it because they were mostly fine against Buffalo, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be fine against the Chiefs.
Look at the 2020 Chiefs, for example. Everybody remembers how horrible the offensive line was in the Super Bowl, with them looking more like what you’d see at the end of a preseason game than an actual offensive line of a Super Bowl team. But what’s forgotten is that is essentially what the line was two weeks earlier against Buffalo, and they did fine.
Sure, you can argue the Chiefs pass rush isn’t as good as that Tampa Bay one was. But is it really so bad? The Chiefs had a pressure percentage of 24.9%, good for 5th in the NFL. Buffalo was at a mere 22.2%, which is 14th. And that includes 11 games worth of Von Miller, who led the team in sacks but didn’t play against the Bengals.
Some would say that’s due to the Chiefs loving to blitz, but the data doesn’t back that up either. The Chiefs are a very average 14th in blitz rate at 24.2%. There is very good reason to believe the Chiefs could go out and dominate the Bengals’ makeshift offensive line.
With all of that said, I think there are two big unknowns that will determine the game:
- How much is Mahomes limited by his injury?
- Can the Chiefs pass rush dominate the Bengals’ backup offensive line?
If both of these go for the Chiefs, the Chiefs will win in a blowout. If both go to the Bengals, the Bengals will win in a blowout. If they’re split, it will be close and likely come down to who gets the most breaks.
What makes me lean towards the Chiefs overall in this game is that Reid said this injury wasn’t as bad as the one Mahomes had against Jacksonville in 2019. You might not even remember this injury (I had certainly forgotten about it) because it didn’t affect him at all. Over the next 3 games he averaged 377 passing yards, had 7 touchdowns to 0 interceptions, and was only sacked 3 times.
If I was to put numbers on it, I’d say I’m 80% confident that Mahomes will be as good as usual or close to it, and 40% confident that the Chiefs will be able to take advantage of the Bengals backups on the offensive line. So, on net, that makes the Chiefs more likely to win.
Chiefs are now -1.5 point favorites
With Kelce listed as questionable, I wonder if it makes another swing in the other direction.
I can’t see how it wouldn’t
Most passing TD in postseason before turning 30
Patrick Mahomes 30*
Brett Favre 25
Joe Flacco 25
Troy Aikman 21
*turned 27 in September
I just got a notification that Kelce is questionable for the game with a back injury.
Kansas City Chiefs
Mecole Hardman, Justin Watson, and Travis Kelce are questionable for Sunday’s game.
The #Chiefs are listing Travis Kelce as questionable for Sunday vs the #bengals with a back injury. Kelce was slated to talk to us today, but because of treatment there wasn’t an opportunity for him to address the media.
Talk about bulletin board material!
So Cincinnati says Joe Burrows is Mahomes daddy
Not mad ONE BIT having a pissed off, disrespected, 1st Team All Pro D Tackle Chris Jones ready to bring the noise Sunday
As if there was ever a doubt
Tix prices just FELL UNDER $200
prices will probably continue to fall….
ITS TOO COLD
I’m 100% confident that we can beat the Bengals and get beat by Cheffers in the Super Bowl.
Steams LIVE in 10 minutes: Episode 12.
OUTSTANDING video, so far!!!!!!
You hear Patrick YELLING: no x-ray, I’ll do it at half time.
Tony the resident homer!
Chiefs are favored now, so it’s not even being a homer to pick them anymore.
You’re still a homer – just a smart one
“But that 3-0 is a bit of a mirage”
The fuck it is!
It means NOTHING now.
A new game will be played on Sunday in which either team can win.
I’ll take it.
Because you’re a homer
Chris Jones press conference a few seconds ago was FUNNY!
He kept calling arrowhead….BURROWHEAD (over & over).
Chris ended his press conference saying: SEE YOU ALL @ BURROWHEAD stadium!!
Chris & the defense are going EAT on Sunday!!
Frank Clark press conference – he’s READY for Sunday!!
Creed Humphrey & Orlando Brown JR – press conference both were under 3 minutes. Standard media Bull Jive questions
“I don’t give a damn. Bring ’em on”
Are gold end zones out there?
I hope so!
I do not understand why those aren’t standard for playoff games.
CINN – starting LT & RG
I think people are really underestimating the possibility of the defense dominating their OL. Everybody’s a bit cynical about the defense (and for good reason to be fair), but their OL is a disaster and we have some good pass rushers (at least in theory).
Bills ranked 23rd in total number of sacks
Chiefs rank 2nd
Chris Jones is overdue for a HUGE playoff sack day!!
QB who get ball out the QUICKEST:
Burrow actually had the 4th lowest pressure percentage, and that is probably a big reason why.
I guess it’s not just the pass rush, but the secondary needs to hold them down for that extra split second.
Patrick gets the ball out quick, he just occasionally takes his time doing it 😁
I’ve gotten into chess recently and there’s a famous saying that goes “when you’ve found a good move, look for better”. That seems to be Mahomes’ philosophy when it comes to throwing the football.
Dink Dink Dink 😆 🤣 😂
Why didn’t that happen in the 1st game ?
They had their starters in the 1st game.
They will have 3 different starters on the OL vs the last game, plus another starter was hurt and may not be 100%.
I’ll be wearing my lucky red thong to arrowhead (1/29) & Phoenix (2/12) — last time I wore it Chiefs won. championship game & super bowl.
You do you, gonz!
You ever seen gonzo?
He looks just like congressman Santos, the liar (without the glasses)
my biggest concern, not the ankle….if that doesn’t work well, then Henne comes in.
if Cheffers doesn’t work well….???
I’m 100% confidenandvt the Bengals & Chiefs will play each other … after that I have no clue, except that I think it’ll be close and one team will score more points than the other