AFC Championship Game Predictions: Back Kelce to score anytime

 | January 26 | 

5 mins read

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Patrick Mahomes and company got it done on the road in Buffalo last week and his Kansas City side have headed to Maryland to face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

@NFLGirlUK previews the encounter and we've picked out a couple of prop-bets at odds-against that we feel provide some betting value...

Ravens vs Chiefs Betting Tips:

  • Back Travis Kelce to score anytime @ 6/5
  • Back Isiah Pacheco to have over 24.5 receiving yards @ 11/8

The AFC Championship game is right around the corner, with the Kansas City Chiefs traveling to take on the Baltimore Ravens. The Chiefs hope to continue their incredible six-year stretch with another Super Bowl appearance, while Lamar Jackson and the Ravens want to get in on the action.

Let’s talk about the Chiefs first. If they didn’t have Patrick Mahomes, this genuinely might be one of the lesser teams in the league. Not because their defense isn’t great, or their coaching staff, or Travis Kelce. But because there’s a genuine lack of talent at the wide receiver position.

The only reason you don’t realise it is because Mahomes is throwing people open. If you put a different signal caller on this team, they wouldn’t be where they are right now. It’s what makes them dangerous, having a quarterback that just wins games.

As great as that is though, one must wonder if their luck is going to run out or not. Can their wide receivers make enough of an impact here against Baltimore to win this game?

Will Kelce be able to consistently get open to stretch the field? Will the run game even work against a stout Ravens defensive line? These are concerns that everybody has for Kansas City, yet there’s still an insurmountable belief that Mahomes will get the job done again.

Meanwhile, the Ravens have literally everything that you would want out of a team. Lamar Jackson is so electric under centre that it gives opposing defenses headaches trying to contain him. Not only that, but the team finally gave him some decent weapons for him to throw at, and they’ve delivered.

Bringing in Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham, and having a breakout star in Isaiah Likely have all made this offense better. We might even see Mark Andrews make a surprise return to the line-up this weekend.

Simply put, the offense will score points, it’ll really be up to the defense to limit Mahomes. The best thing to note is that every quarterback struggles when they face consistent pressure. The one thing the Ravens do well at is generate pressure. They ended the season with 60 sacks total, the most of any other team in the NFL.

You’d have to imagine that they’d get after Mahomes the entire night. This defensive line should be able to contain their run game better than both the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins did in the past two weeks.

What’s a big difference for me is Kyle Hamilton though. It’s likely that he might spend a ton of time on Kelce, and his length/speed combination could keep the star tight end in check. If he does that, Mahomes will be severely limited in the passing game.

Again, the sheer fact that Mahomes is on this Chiefs team makes you want to roll with them. I just can’t do that here.

I love what the Ravens have built on this defense, and I find it hard to believe that wide receivers like Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Rashee Rice will tear them apart. On the other hand, I don’t believe that this Chiefs defense can contain Jackson for an entire game. I like Baltimore at home.

Match Odds:

Baltimore have been installed as a 4.5pt favourite as of the time of writing on Friday morning. This is not a huge surprise and feels about right, half-way between a FG and a Touchdown.

Looking at the Money Line, you can back John Harbaugh's side at 1/2 to progress to the Super Bowl with Andy Reid's men available to play at 17/10.

The Total Points number feels maybe a touch low at 44.5 and no player is shorter than Even money to score anytime, with Lamar Jackson the shortest price in the market at 11/10.

Bet 1 - Travis Kelce to score anytime @ 6/5

Seeing Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce in-sync once more in a big play-off game was a nice site for many NFL fans. The superstar Tight End has not been at his best during the 2023 season, with fleeting moments of quality mixed in with plenty of being just off.

On Sunday night though, they looked to be tuned in to one another all night long and despite only catching the five balls, two of them were for scores.

There is plenty of talk about whether this will be it for #87 and is a Manning-cast type show on NBC with his brother in the works. That chatter though is for the future. As long as it is a big game and Kelce is fit, he's going to be Mahomes' top-choice in key moments and that is why getting him at odds-against to score, feels like a smart play.

Bet 2 - Isiah Pacheco over 24.5 receiving yards @ 11/8

Even though I think Baltimore win the game, the value in the prop market feels to be on the KC side of the ball. With the excellent pash rush that the Ravens present, it will surely mean plenty of quick dump-offs in the flat to Running Backs for Patrick Mahomes and that is where Isiah Pacheco can pick up some easy yards to make this a winner.

Only twice in the two play-off games has the Running Back caught a ball, which doesn't bode well but he averaged nearly three-per-game in the regular season and this is a wrinkle that makes an awful lot of sense in a game such as this.

Baltimore are extremely aggressive up front and they will make it tough for the running-game but the best way to slow down an aggressive front, is via the screen game. I think Andy Reid calls a couple of these early and Pacheco can be the guy.

Remember to check out our NFL Betting Tips index page where we preview games live on Sky Sports along with a weekly Predictions column...

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