Can the Bengals Go Tiger Style on the Chiefs?
Right now, the Kansas City Chiefs may be the best team in football heading into week 17. The defense has improved tremendously and the offense has started to click on all cylinders. Patrick Mahomes is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and he has a bunch of play-makers spread across the field. Playing your best ball in December and January often dictates how a team will fair come playoff time. If that's a true indicator then we may see the Chiefs in the Super Bowl for a third consecutive season.
If the Chiefs are the best team in the AFC, then which squad has the best chance to defeat them? The Bills beat the them 38 - 20 back in October so why not again with Josh Allen and company! How about Tennessee who two weeks later crushed Kansas City 27 - 3!? Perhaps the Patriots who despite losing two straight games, have a tough defense and strong run game which always travels well in the post season. I think the Colts match up well against Mahomes and the Chiefs as Indy has the best run game in the league and a very solid defense. If Carson Wentz can play mistake free football they can beat anyone. The Chargers looked like they would give K.C. some problems and have matched up well against them as the two teams split the season series.
There's another team who has been on the rise and exceeding pre season expectations. They play in what was supposed to be one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. And now this team is putting it all together on both sides of the ball. Yes, I am talking about the Cincinnati Bengals who have an emerging star at QB with Joe Burrow and a bunch of weapons offensively starting with RB Joe Mixon who has had a strong year. He's also a very underrated pass catcher out of the backfield. Plus, perhaps a top 3 wide receiver corps with Higgins, Boyd and rookie star Ja'marr Chase.
courtesy of The Washington Post
The Bengals currently hold the AFC North division lead at (9 - 6) and own the 3rd seed in the conference. Joe Burrow and the Bengals finished the season sweep against the Ravens this past Sunday in stunning fashion. Yes, Baltimore is banged up but still Burrow threw for 525 yards with 4 touchdown passes and no picks.
Let's get to the match up! The Bengals have the 11th ranked offense in the league wheras the Chiefs have the 2nd best offense. The Chiefs are 11th in the league against the pass and 4th in the league throwing the football. The Bengals have the 7th best overall offense in footall and ranked 13th on defense in points per game.
The statistics bold well for the Chiefs in this Sundays match up but the game isn't played on paper. The Chiefs are a 4 point favorite on the road. That says a lot as far as the betting line goes and how Vegas feels about the defending AFC champs.
Kansas City's defense has been improving every week and the offense has found balance between the run and pass game. The Bengals can be a hot and cold team but they have won their past two games and put themselves in a situation where they control their own path in the AFC North.
Momentum is key during this part of the year as it carries over into the playoffs. Again, playing your best football in December and January is a major factor for playoff success. The Chiefs have won eight straight games and clearly playing their best football when it counts the most. Cincy is also playing their best football with a jolt of confidence after taking the division lead this past Sunday.
Time to figure out who wins this game Sunday afternoon. On paper the statistics show that Kansas City is the better team. However, the Bengals have been on the rise and their QB is playing the position to near perfection. One key component in this contest is the fact that Cincinnati needs this game much more than K.C. so Cincy gets closer to securing the division and a home field advantage for at least the first round of the post season. That's not to say that the Chiefs won't be playing as hard as they can because they already wrapped up the AFC West. But there's only one top seed in each conference and you know Andy Reid wants that bye!
To sum up, the Chiefs defense has greatly improved against the run and pass. Their offense has got back on track with Mahomes looking like the MVP he was in 2018. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Byron Pringle, Mecole Hardman and running back Darrel Williams are all in sync and have defensive opponents on their heels.
courtesy of Chiefs Wire - USA Today
The Chiefs are known for their explosive plays but the Bengals are taking that honor this year. With Burrow's talent and arm strength including the great offensive weapons, can score quickly at any time. Tee Higgins is an absolute stud, Tyler Boyd is a total pro and Ja'Marr Chase can really take the top off the ball. The Chiefs defense has played better against the run but they'll have their hands full with Joe Mixon.
A big factor in this match up are the ability of the head coaches Andy Reid and Zac Taylor to make in game adjustments and the right coaching calls and play calling. Obviously coach Reid has the experience and upper hand with preparation and play calling. But let's not underestimate Zac Taylor's coaching skills. He's the head coach who can potentially be remembered forever in Cincinnati by possibly one day bringing the Lombadi Trophy to home to Cincinnati for the first time in the franchise history. I'm not saying that's going to happen this season. I am saying that they could win it all within the next two seasons.
Home underdogs are always a scary thing especially with so much on the line. The Chiefs are a 4 point favorite on the road which would indicate that Vegas likes the Chiefs to win this game. On a neutral field I'd take Kansas City. But this Sunday I believe Paul Brown Stadium will be rockin at full capacity, screaming their collective lungs out acting as the 12th man so to speak. The crowd noise will be a facotr. How big of a factor remains to be seen.
I think the balanced attack of the Bengals offense just might be enough to keep Mahomes and the Chiefs offense off the field with less opportunities to score touchdowns. I think the Bengals will benefit from playing at home and their offense should be able to find ways to move the ball downfield consistently. I also believe the Chiefs can score on the majority of their drives. I will close it out with this.....watch out for the Bengals front four on D led by Trey Hendrickson. They could be the difference in this game as most games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage. Prediction: Bengals 33 - Chiefs 26