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Green Bay Packers’ salary cap situation heading into 2022

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The Green Bay Packers have already started creating salary cap space in the 2022 NFL offseason. However, they still have further moves they need to make heading into the new league year on March 16. Let’s examine the current situation for the Packers and what options they have to open up more cap space in the next couple of weeks.

Packers’ salary cap outlook for 2022

All numbers are from Spotrac and correct as of 5 AM on February 27.

The Packers are currently $28.25 million over the projected salary cap for the 2022 season. Not included within that number is the salary they would take on if they franchise tag Davante Adams — which they are widely expected to do. Therefore, the Packers would need to go from $-28.25 million in cap space to around $20 million in cap space. That means they need to clear around another $50 million ahead of March 16.

Green Bay has already started to open up cap space this offseason. Let’s look at which players they have already restructured and summarize the impact of these moves on the cap.

  • DT Kenny Clark
    Converted $13.615 million to a signing bonus and added two void years
    Opened $10.892 million in cap space for 2022
  • RB Aaron Jones
    Converted $3.85 million to a signing bonus and added two void years
    Opened $3.08 million in cap space for 2022
  • LT David Bakhtiari
    Converted $11.58 million to a signing bonus and added two void years
    Opened $9.264 million in cap space for 2022

How can the Packers open more salary cap space in 2022?

As Packers shareholder and Twitter cap guru Ken Ingalls tweeted on Saturday, Green Bay has now dealt with the “low hanging fruit & obvious” contract moves. Those three were the eligible veterans whose deals run beyond 2022. Now, the Packers have to make the more difficult decisions and need players to agree to any restructures. Indeed, Green Bay would require the players’ agreement to add void years and “alter” the contract.

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Let’s look at some of the Packers’ options for potential roster moves in the next couple of weeks.

What options do the Packers have with Aaron Rodgers?

There are really three options for the Packers for Rodgers’ contract and his future with the team. The first option is in his hands — retirement. If Rodgers retires, the Packers would be left with $26.85 million in dead money. The downside is that they would no longer have Rodgers and get nothing in return for losing him other than cap space. The good news from a cap perspective is that Rodgers’ retirement would clear $19.82 million in cap space in 2022.

The numbers would be the same if they were to trade Rodgers. They would open up $19.82 million in cap space but would likely get some valuable draft assets in return — at the very least. The third option is that the Packers offer Rodgers an extension. Doing so could potentially save the Packers more than $20 million in cap space. However, for that to happen, Rodgers would have to play on close to the veteran minimum in 2022 and then have a lot of guaranteed money built into 2023 and beyond.

Will both Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith be on the roster in 2022?

This pairing is currently set to count around $47 million against the Packers’ salary cap in 2022. That equates to around 22.5% of the cap, and coupled with Rashan Gary, it’s a big slice of the cap pie. Therefore, with both entering the final year of their deals, the Packers have some choices to make. Do they cut one (or both), extend one (or both), or just restructure the deals and add void years?

The decision is tough. Both are the same age, but Za’Darius missed 2021 due to injury, while Preston played 16 games. Za’Darius is arguably the more consistent producer on the field, but he would also likely cost more to extend. PFN’s NFL Insider and Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline reported on February 26 that Za’Darius Smith is a potential cap casualty.

Releasing Za’Darius would save the Packers $15.28 million in cap space. Meanwhile, a restructure with added void years would save around $11 million but leave the Packers with that much in dead money in 2023, regardless of whether Za’Darius Smith is on the roster or not.

Preston Smith has a cap hit of $19.72 million, with potential savings of $12.47 million if the Packers released him. It seems unlikely they would release both, so potentially an extension for Preston is a solution. The Packers could bring his cap number down as low as $8.5 million. Nonetheless, it would likely go a little higher in 2022 to reduce the impact in 2023 and 2024.

Could Randall Cobb be on his way out of Green Bay?

A year after trading for Cobb in an attempt to placate Rodgers, releasing him would seem an odd decision. Combine that with three other receivers being unrestricted free agents, Allen Lazard as a restricted free agent, and Malik Taylor as an exclusive rights free agent — letting another receiver leave would render the WR depth chart vulnerable.

The Packers could put the ball in Cobb’s court. He is due over $8 million combined in base salary and roster bonus. None of that money is guaranteed, and it seems unlikely Cobb would earn that much on the open market. Therefore, Green Bay could present Cobb with a potential pay cut to reduce his cap number. If that does not work, they could keep him on the roster with a restructure to save about $5.55 million by adding three extra void years.

Could the Packers offer extensions to Jaire Alexander, Rashan Gary, and Darnell Savage ahead of the 2022 league year?

Alexander, Gary, and Savage are in the final years of their respective deals. Gary would likely have his fifth-year option picked up, so he is at least under control through 2023. Savage is also eligible for his fifth-year option, but his future is less certain. He will count just $3.98 million against the cap — the Packers may not want to do anything until after this season.

Meanwhile, Alexander is set to play on his fifth-year option in 2022. That comes at a cap number of $13.29 million. Focusing on Alexander and Gary, they are set to count just over $18 million against the cap combined. Yet, only $2.39 million of that is in prorated bonus.

Therefore, the Packers could sign both to extensions and bring that combined cap down to $10 million or less, depending on how they structure the deal. As with the extensions above, it would be a delicate balance between getting the right value in 2022 versus pilling a lot of cap commitments into 2023 and 2024.

Offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins is also set to play in the final year of his rookie deal in 2022. His name lacks the star power of the others here, but he is an extremely valuable piece that the Packers will almost certainly want to keep long-term. His contract has a cap number of just $4.72 million in 2022. Consequently, it’d be tough for the Packers to sign him to an extension and reduce that cap number in 2022. He could be a candidate for an extension later in the offseason.

What are the Packers’ other options to save salary cap space in 2022?

There are a number of players who could be released or have void years added to their deals in restructures. Some options for potential releases include:

  • S Adrian Amos
    Dead money: $7.33 million
    Cap saving: $4.65 million
  • OL Billy Turner
    Dead money: $5.81 million
    Cap saving: $3.36 million
  • DL Dean Lowry
    Dead money: $3.99 million
    Cap saving: $4.08 million
  • K Mason Crosby
    Dead money: $2.34 million
    Cap saving: $2.40 million
  • TE Marcedes Lewis
    Dead money: $2.08 million
    Cap saving: $2.45 million

Some of those players could be on their way out, while others will likely either get an extension or be offered restructures with void years.





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2023 East-West Shrine Bowl Risers From Weigh-Ins and Measurements

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The 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl is underway, and we now have official measurements for all players in attendance. Looking at the group as a whole, who are some of the biggest 2023 NFL Draft risers after receiving their numbers?

Top Risers From Shrine Bowl Weigh-Ins and Measurements

Measurements are only a small part of the equation at the Shrine Bowl. Players still need to show up and produce, and be constructive in interviews. But the measurements help point onlookers in the right direction for potential risers. Here are some names that stand out.

Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

For Zay Flowers, the headliner of the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl roster, it wasn’t so much about impressing with his measurements. It was about not measuring smaller than expected — a fear many held for him coming into the event.

MORE: Top 10 Wide Receivers at the 2023 Shrine Bowl Include Zay Flowers, A.T. Perry, and Bryce Ford-Wheaton

Upon receiving the numbers, Flowers came in at 5’9 1/4″ and 182 pounds. He’s still considered below-average in size. But after playing in the 170-pound range at Boston College, it’s good to see Flowers at a weight that will be passable, given his play style. All that’s left is to see how he looks at that weight in practices.

Kadeem Telfort, OT, UAB

One of the biggest riser candidates this week is Kadeem Telfort. He’ll get a chance to speak with scouts in-depth about his college journey and his maturation process over time. But he’s also a former Florida recruit with verifiable athleticism. On top of it all, he’s huge.

Telfort measured in at 6’7″, 319 pounds, with arms almost 36″ long. He’s a legitimate powerhouse on the end with great height and density and overwhelming reach. Telfort talked to PFN about how he’s been working to maximize that length in his pass sets. That’s something he’ll get to show this week.

Brevin Allen, DL, Campbell

Brevin Allen was a late addition to the Shrine Bowl roster, after impressing onlookers at the Hula Bowl earlier this month. Despite being one of the later adds, Allen may be one of the first prospects to catch scouts’ eyes. He measured in at 6’3 5/8″, 262 pounds, with 34 1/2″ arms.

Allen is a freakish athlete at his size, who displayed alignment versatility in his time with the Campbell Camels. Through 2021 and 2022, he amassed 14 total sacks and 25 total tackles for loss. He has the production and the size. He’ll now get to prove himself against premier competition in Las Vegas.

Quinton Barrow, OL, Grand Valley State

The Shrine Bowl roster is by no means sparse when it comes to talent. But given the sheer depth of the class this year, it’s a great opportunity for lesser-known prospects to make themselves known, both with their play and their stature. Quinton Barrow has accomplished this with the latter.

Barrow is one prospect scouts will be especially eager to get eyes on. He’s off the beaten path at Grand Valley State, but no one can deny he has legit NFL size. Barrow measured in at 6’5 3/8″ and 322 pounds, with 34 1/4″ arms and a near seven-foot wingspan. If he can back the numbers with his play, he’ll shoot up boards.

Shaq Davis, WR, South Carolina State

Continuing with the theme of small-school prospects getting themselves on the map, Shaq Davis is another who’s achieved a strong start to the week with his numbers. Davis is one of the bigger wide receivers on the tour at the Shrine Bowl. He’s almost 6’5″ and 216 pounds, with 34 1/8″ arms and a massive 82 5/8″ wingspan.

Davis’ reach is larger than a good amount of offensive linemen. Sometimes schools inflate player measurements, but that’s not the case with Davis. He’s just as dominating as advertised. It’s a big reason why he averaged over 20 yards per catch in his career and scored a touchdown on over 22% of his catches.

Tyreque Jones, DB, Boise State

Anything above 32″, in general, is a good length for defensive backs, but there’s one DB prospect who’s head and shoulders above the rest at the Shrine Bowl when it comes to his disruption radius. That prospect is Boise State’s Tyreque Jones.

MORE: Group of Five NFL Draft Prospects at the 2023 Shrine Bowl

A versatile safety-slot hybrid, Jones measured in at 6’1 5/8″ and 194 pounds. His pure height and weight numbers are fairly standard, but at that size, he has absurd 33 7/8″ arms. That proportional length is extremely rare, and it should allow him to make a few plays on the ball this week.

Truman Jones, EDGE, Harvard

You’ll want to keep tabs on a few small-school prospects at the East-West Shrine Bowl, and Harvard’s Truman Jones is another one on the list. Jones will transfix NFL teams off the field with his smarts and his special-teams willingness, but a big checkmark for him was measuring in with NFL size this week. He did that.

A productive edge rusher who picked up six sacks and 13 TFLs in 2022, Jones came in at 6’2 3/4″, 251 pounds, with 33 5/8″ arms and 10″ hands. Gauging his athleticism is the next task this week, but he has great natural leverage and proportional length — tools that will help him in 1-on-1s.

Devonnsha Maxwell, DT, Chattanooga

Devonnsha Maxwell finished his career at Chattanooga as the all-time sacks leader in the Southern Conference. He’s got legitimate athleticism and pass-rush skills, and when you talk to him, his attention to detail is evident. But it helps that his build is very unique and valuable.

Maxwell measured in at 6’1 1/2″ and 299 pounds at the Shrine Bowl. He’s a bit undersized off of those measurements, but at that size, he has long 33″ arms. Maxwell has high-end natural leverage at his size, and his length allows him to make contact first and dictate reps against interior blockers.

Jordan McFadden, OL, Clemson

The spotlight has been on Jordan McFadden for a while, with him being a starting tackle at Clemson. Even so, he’s remained under the radar throughout the 2023 NFL Draft process. He may be able to change that with a strong week at the Shrine Bowl, and already, he’s piquing interest.

McFadden measured 6’2″ on the dot, with a 295-pound frame and rangy 34″ arms. His combination of natural leverage and proportional length will help him anywhere, but he could feasibly project very well on the interior. Don’t be surprised to see him get guard reps this week.

Moro Ojomo, DT, Texas

Much like Maxwell from Chattanooga, Moro Ojomo is another defensive tackle prospect who has a very appealing combination of natural leverage and proportional length, and that’s confirmed by his numbers. He’s 6’2 1/2″ and 293 pounds, but he has 34 3/8″ arms at that size.

At under 6’3″, Ojomo can easily get under his opponents’ pads and acquire leverage. With his absolute levers for arms, Ojomo can easily drive power and channel his burst with full extensions. After a career year at Texas, he’s one to watch as a potential riser this week.

Terell Smith, DB, Minnesota

Terell Smith picked up a lot of ground with his tape in 2022, standing out as a playmaker with slot versatility on Minnesota’s defense. His line of 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, and five deflections was impressive. Even more impressive, however, is Smith’s size within his versatile role.

MORE: 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl Weigh-Ins and Measurements for Top NFL Draft Prospects

At the Shrine Bowl, Smith measured in at 6’0 1/2″ and 207 pounds, with arms nearly 33″ long. For a DB listed at 215 pounds on his school site, it’s good to see Smith linger around the 210-mark. And his length undoubtedly helps him contest passes and combat blocks.

Ochaun Mathis, EDGE, Nebraska

There was a time when Ochaun Mathis was a trendy sleeper pick in the 2021 NFL Draft cycle. That was after he amassed eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in a breakout 2020 campaign for the TCU Horned Frogs. But Mathis regressed the following year and later transferred to Nebraska in 2022.

Mathis’ collegiate career left onlookers wanting more, but his measurements are a reminder that he does have traits to mold. He’s still a bit lighter than preferred, but his spidery frame is hard to miss. He’s 6’4 1/2″ and 247 pounds, with near-35″ arms, 10 5/8″ hands, and a massive 84 3/4″ wingspan. Mathis needs a big week, and he’s off to a solid start.



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Chiefs vs. 49ers, Bengals vs. Eagles, and More

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We’ve nearly made it. After three weeks of preseason play, 18 weeks of regular-season action, and two weeks of playoffs, Sunday’s Championship Games will determine which teams play in Super Bowl 57.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Francisco 49ers are all still alive. Which of the four potential Super Bowl matchups would be the most intriguing?

Potential Super Bowl Matchups Ranked

4) Chiefs vs. 49ers

This would be a rematch of the Super Bowl we saw just three years ago. Down 20-10 well into the fourth quarter, Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to three touchdown drives in the final six minutes and change as Kansas City emerged with the victory.

A Chiefs-49ers redux would give Kyle Shanahan a chance to get revenge and earn his first Lombardi Trophy. Perhaps more importantly, Kansas City vs. San Francisco would pit the NFL’s best offense against the league’s top defense. How would Andy Reid game plan to face DeMeco Ryans’ unit this time around? Could Fred Warner help slow down Travis Kelce?

Mahomes and the Chiefs have hosted five consecutive AFC title games, but adding another Super Bowl to the mix would truly move this Kansas City iteration into a place among the all-time great dynasties.

3) 49ers vs. Bengals

Speaking of revenge, a 49ers-Bengals Super Bowl would allow Cincinnati the opportunity to avenge two losses from more than 30 years ago. Joe Montana and the 49ers beat Ken Anderson’s Bengals in Super Bowl XVI, then took down a Boomer Esiason-led Cincinnati squad in Super Bowl XXIII.

MORE: How the Cincinnati Bengals Hold Clear Advantages Over Kansas City Chiefs

Brock Purdy will likely be the main storyline if he’s involved in this year’s Super Bowl. The final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, Purdy has already set new high-water marks for future “Mr. Irrelevants.” But winning a Super Bowl as a rookie seventh-rounder would eclipse what nearly anyone thought was possible when Purdy took over for Jimmy Garoppolo in December.

The Bengals nearly made it to the mountaintop last season. After a surprising playoff run that saw them take down the Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and Chiefs, Cincinnati narrowly lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl. Joe Burrow is now viewed as a top-three NFL quarterback, and winning a ring in just his third pro campaign would put him on a Hall of Fame track.

2) Bengals vs. Eagles

Burrow faced the Eagles during his rookie campaign when Carson Wentz was still Philadelphia’s starting quarterback. He’s never played against Jalen Hurts in the NFL, but the two did square off in the 2019 College Football Semifinals. Burrow tossed seven touchdowns and ran for another as LSU dominated Oklahoma 63-28.

Burrow and Hurts are now two of the NFL’s best signal-callers. While a Bengals-Eagles Super Bowl likely wouldn’t result in 91 total points, it could be a high-scoring affair. Cincinnati and Philadelphia rank top five in offensive efficiency, and these clubs boast two of the more dynamic wide receiver duos in the league.

However, the Bengals and Eagles also have near-elite defenses. This Super Bowl would likely be a battle of adjustments as coordinators on both sides tweak their schemes. Between Shane Steichen, Jonathan Gannon, Brian Callahan, and Lou Anarumo, Cincinnati and Philadelphia have three coordinators in the running for head coaching jobs and another — Anarumo — who should be.

1) Eagles vs. Chiefs

We’ve gotten lucky enough to see the four best NFL teams advance to their respective conference title games. Eagles-Chiefs, a matchup of the NFC and AFC’s top seeds, would represent a contest between the clubs that have been atop their respective conferences for most of the season.

Since becoming Kansas City’s head coach, Andy Reid is 3-0 against Philadelphia, but a Super Bowl victory over his old team would mean more than any regular-season victory. Only one of those games included Mahomes or Hurts, a Week 4 matchup in 2021 that involved 72 combined points.

MORE: 3 Kansas City Chiefs Keys to Victory vs. the Cincinnati Bengals

While the core of these teams has stayed relatively intact since that contest, there are two notable changes: the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill, and the Eagles acquired A.J. Brown. Kansas City hasn’t missed a beat with Hill gone, while Brown has only made Philadelphia’s offense all the more explosive.

Any of the four potential Super Bowl matchups will be excellent, and there isn’t a team among the four remaining that doesn’t deserve to have made it this far. But Eagles vs. Chiefs would present the most explosive storylines and, hopefully, the most explosive game.



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NFL Conference Championship Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

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We’ve reached the Conference Championship games. Four teams enter. Two teams leave. Here’s a final look at our predictions and picks for both games. The following betting odds are for picks against the spread as well as moneylines based on DraftKings Sportsbook.

NFL Conference Championship Predictions and Picks

Just like during the NFL regular season, the playoffs feature the expected, the moderately unexpected, and the completely unexpected. When betting on point spreads and moneylines, we need to focus on the first two outcomes.

What are the highest-probability game scripts? Which interesting subplots could emerge? For example, we cannot anticipate when a little-used fullback will fall into the end zone twice in one half. But we can assess the likelihood that one team’s backfield will earn more scoring opportunities.

With that in mind, here are our preliminary assessments of how each game might proceed.

Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 29
  • Start time: 3 p.m. ET

To a casual bettor, the point-spread shift since Monday (from -3 to -2.5) might seem negligible. But in the history of the NFL, 12.7% of games have been decided by exactly three points.

So that shift from -3 to -2.5 is significant. A three-point Philly win was a push on Monday. Now it’s a win if you pick the Eagles and a loss if you take the 49ers.

The market knows why it did this. The Eagles are at home against a 49ers backfield that, as of Friday morning, still hadn’t been healthy enough to practice this week. Meanwhile, Jake Elliott has hit 16 of his last 17 field-goal attempts. Philly’s elite pass defense should be able to contain Brock Purdy, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle.

And yet, I’m not deterred. I went with San Francisco at +3 a few days ago. Unless Christian McCaffrey is somehow inactive or officially limited, I’m sticking with San Francisco at +2.5. (And frankly, if McCaffrey sits, the Eagles probably will jump to nine- or even 10-point favorites, so this could all be moot.)

No team has yielded fewer passing yards than Philadelphia, and no team has racked up more sacks. But passing isn’t the most direct path to a mini-Niners upset. Instead, McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell (assuming they’ll be good to go) could combine for 30+ touches, with Purdy dumping off to his backfield 8-10 times. We might also see more Samuel runs against a defense yielding 4.6 yards per carry.

MORE: Thursday 49ers vs. Eagles Injury Report

The rest will be up to San Francisco’s vaunted defense, which has stepped up in the last six quarters, yielding only 18 points while forcing four turnovers.

How will the Eagles adjust to the 49ers’ elite defense, which is yielding a league-best 3.4 yards per carry? The challenge for Philly is that they make their living on the ground. They’re third in rushing attempts and No. 1 in rushing scores with 32. For context, the No. 2 team has only 24 rushing touchdowns.

I expect San Francisco to force the Eagles to win through the air, while Philadelphia firmly sticks with a run-friendly game plan for as long as possible. To me, there are no obvious answers. But the major questions are (a) whether Philly’s pass rush can rattle Purdy, and (b) whether the 49ers’ run defense will force Jalen Hurts to play like a near-elite pocket passer — something he isn’t — at least not yet.

Against-the-spread prediction: 49ers
Moneyline winner: 49ers

Kansas City Chiefs (-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 29
  • Start time: 6:30 p.m. ET

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning faced off four times in the AFC Championship Game. Manning won the final three meetings — once with the Colts and twice with the Broncos.

Brady was 8-1 in AFC title games versus other quarterbacks. But with Super Bowl appearances on the line, he met his match three times against another all-time great.

MORE: PFN Betting Guide

Sunday will mark the fifth straight AFC title game for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. All five have been at home. In a strange coincidence — connecting one generation to the next — KC lost its first Conference Championship during this run to Brady’s Patriots. Two years later, the budding franchise lost in the Super Bowl to Brady’s Buccaneers.

And last year brought more disappointment, with a shocking loss to the upstart Bengals, which barely eked into the postseason at 10-7 (thanks in large part to an incredible comeback and last-second field goal versus these same Chiefs in Week 17).

Cincy was a seven-point underdog in last year’s AFC title game. The Chiefs’ final three home wins during the regular season — two versus eventual playoff teams — were by a combined score of 106-28. So yeah, they were ready.

A year later, questions (doubts?) are growing. KC’s favored by a point because they’re at home. If this were in Cincinnati, assuredly, the Bengals would be favored by more. After all, the Bengals have beaten them three times in less than 13 months. Their defense has improved in the interim, while the Chiefs’ D — particularly with respect to points surrendered — is deeply subpar.

Mahomes vs. Joe Burrow might be an early version of last generation’s Brady vs. Manning. The Chiefs have dominated, but one ring doesn’t make them a dynasty. And the Bengals have only one Super Bowl appearance. There’s still time for both teams — both stellar QBs — to grow into perennial powerhouses.

For now, we’re left with two teams that can rack up yards on the ground and through the air. The Bengals’ defense arguably is better, but the counterweight is that their offensive line is far worse. Only Brady has had less time to throw than Burrow this season.

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When these teams last met in Week 13, Joe Mixon was sidelined. But that didn’t stop the Bengals from employing a run-heavy offense, with Samaje Perine (21 carries) and Burrow (11 carries) controlling the time of possession on 4.8 ypc, limiting Burrow to only one sack. If Cincinnati can replicate that strategy on Sunday, they could be tough to beat.

Of course, I expect the Chiefs to make adjustments. They often do. That’s why they’re playing in their fifth straight AFC Championship.

Against-the-spread prediction: Chiefs
Moneyline winner: Chiefs



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