Preview and pick for Chiefs at Bengals
The Kansas City Chiefs look to win a ninth consecutive game Sunday afternoon as they visit the upstart Cincinnati Bengals, themselves fresh off a pair of noteworthy performances, The Bengals are trying to win the AFC North for the first time since 2015. Kansas City have bounced back from a pedestrian 3-4 start, once again establishing themselves as the cream of the crop in the AFC and with a legitimate shot of finishing with the No. 1 seed in the conference.
Cincinnati owns a one-game lead over the freefalling Baltimore Ravens for the lead in the AFC North after an impressive beatdown of Baltimore last Sunday. The Bengals' Joe Burrow threw for a team-record 525 yards in the 41-21 win. Cincinnati now controls its own playoff destiny, though it obviously won't be easy knocking off the firing-on-all-cylinders Chiefs.
The NFL betting lines have the Chiefs as five-point road favorites.
Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals
Both Teams Have Big-Play Potential
It is no secret the Chiefs and Bengals have game-breaking players all over the field. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce - who looks likely to play on Sunday after missing the Chiefs' Week 16 manhandling of Pittsburgh - are two of the most explosive weapons in the league. The speed (for Hill) and strength (for Kelce) routinely allow the pair to score huge touchdowns. It never hurts, either, having Patrick Mahomes and his cannon arm throwing to them.
The Bengals offense is similar in that Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd all regularly score huge touchdowns. The corps of receivers (and Burrow) routinely stretch opposing defenses.
It's a good bet to expect a touchdown longer than 45 yards to be scored in this game. Both defenses do a pretty good job of limiting points, but they each struggle limiting yardage, especially through the air. Kansas City allowed the eighth-most passing yards in the NFL while Cincy has allowed the fourth-most passing yards. So, it is probable there'll be at least one really big pass-and-catch for a score Sunday.
Pick: Longest TD Over 45½ Yards (-115)
There Could Be A Lot Of Field Goal Attempts
The Chiefs may be without kicker Harrison Butker, who is unvaccinated and missed last week's game after testing positive for COVID. However, Cincinnati's Evan McPherson has been very reliable lately, and used quite often. So the field-goal total 'over' could hit regardless of who's booting for Kansas City. The Chiefs released last week's rental, Elliott Fry.
Butker’s been consistent this season, not to mention called upon, usually attempting two or three field goals in every game from Week 7 until Week 15. Then, last week, Fry made three of his four field-goal attempts. Even with all of Kansas City's offensive firepower, the Chiefs have had a good amount of stalled drives that ended in field-goal attempts.
The same is true for the Bengals, as McPherson has attempted at least two field goals in five of the Bengals last six games. He also is converting at a high rate, having made 21 of his last 23. As expected for any rookie kicker, McPherson has struggled at times but has been nearly automatic from 50-plus yards (9-for-11).
If you’re making NFL predictions, you should be all over this pick.
Pick: Over 3½ Total Field Goals Made (+145)
Chiefs' Defense Gives Kansas City Edge
It's going to be hard for the Bengals to stop the Chiefs from scoring, with Kansas City pretty much healthy (assuming Kelce is able to play). Throw in how well the Chiefs' defense has been during their long winning streak, and the task becomes that much more difficult.
Kansas City has allowed more than 17 points just once since the Chiefs last loss (at Tennessee) Oct. 24th. There were four games the Chiefs held the opposition under 10 points. It is incredibly impressive for Kansas City to be in the top-five in both scoring offense and scoring defense, and while the Bengals own a firepower offense, they probably won't win a shootout.
In terms of week-to-week potential, the Bengals are one of the best teams in the NFL. Catch Cincinnati on a good day and the Bengals can repeat what they did to the Ravens last Sunday. However, the consistency isn't there. It's that consistency making the Chiefs the elite team they are. These five points aren't that big of a spread, so expect Kansas City to cover.
Pick: Chiefs -5 (-110)