Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs : The Bengals are here just six games removed from a disappointing season that nearly cost head coach Marvin Lewis his job. Instead, what had been one of the league’s most inconsistent teams have settled in and learned how to close out games in the fourth quarter. Part of a close game every week, they haven’t won or lost this season by more than 11 points.
Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs
The Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) and Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) kick off at 8:20 p.m. ET on Sunday. Kansas City is coming off a 43-40 loss against the New England Patriots. The Bengals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 28-21, on Sunday.
They’ll face a Chiefs squad coming off a disappointing loss against the Patriots but still running one of the highest-powered offenses we’ve witnessed in the modern NFL. Young quarterback Patrick Mahomes will try and bounce back against a Bengals defense ranked just 28th against the pass.
Expect a high-scoring affair with perhaps the top seed for the AFC playoffs on the line. Can the Bengals find a way? Or will the comfy confines of Arrowhead get the Chiefs pointing back in the right direction?
What would you have said in August if someone told you the top two AFC teams through six games would be the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs? But here we are, two division leaders with a combined 9-3 record squaring off in what could be a future battle for the AFC’s top seed.
On paper, the Chiefs continue to run circles around opposing defenses. Their 35.8 points per game leads the AFC and is second to only the Saints. Patrick Mahomes’ 18 touchdowns leads the NFL while Kareem Hunt’s 456 rushing yards are fourth in the AFC. Travis Kelce, arguably the best pass-catching tight end in football, has three 100-yard games already. The offensive line has allowed an NFL-best six sacks through six games.
And yet… it was the offense that made the difference in the Chiefs’ only loss. Mahomes has four interceptions in his last two games; the two he threw against the Patriots led to at least a seven-point swing. Unfortunately, with the defense as bad as it is even a single mistake could swing the game. It’s the type of game-changing turnover the Bengals have feasted on in eking out close victories so far this season.
Keeping it clean is key for an offensive unit whose speed and agility makes them virtually unstoppable when it’s running at 100 percent. It took just 12 seconds in a pressure-packed fourth quarter for Mahomes to tie the Patriots on a 75-yard pass to Tyreek Hill. No defense in football can cover all these speedy receivers at once, let alone a mediocre unit like the Bengals.
The Chiefs’ defense, which allowed a season-high 43 points last weekend, will struggle to control the Bengals’ offense. Kansas City’s 468.2 yards allowed per game is 28 yards higher than the next team, Tampa Bay. The Chiefs are ranked 31st in passing yards allowed, 27th in rushing yards allowed and have forced a middling nine turnovers thus far. Last week might have been rock bottom for this unit; the Patriots never even had to punt.
But the Bengals are no angels either on defense. They’ve allowed 409.2 yards per game, second worst in the AFC to those Chiefs and have only forced eight turnovers of their own (however key they might be). Their 23.8 first downs per game surrendered ranks 29th. Aside from perhaps Geno Atkins, they’re devoid of a major national name on defense.
And while the Chiefs’ offense is what everyone is talking about the Bengals have plenty of playmakers all their own. Pro Bowler A.J. Green has already tallied nearly 500 receiving yards. Tyler Boyd has had a breakout third season, culminating in a two-touchdown day against Pittsburgh last week. Running back Joe Mixon, while without a 100-yard game yet this season, averaged 5.8 yards per carry last week.