The Cincinnati Bengals play host to the Kansas City Chiefs this week in a battle of two teams who've gone a combined 41-22-1 over the past two seasons.
That includes a combined three playoff trips as both teams look to get back to the postseason this year. The Bengals are 3-0 and looking strong; the Chiefs aren't looking so great going 1-2 to start the season and are two games out of the AFC West lead. They'll be desperate for a win this week after losing two straight, but will that be enough to beat the Bengals in their own house?
We asked our staff for their picks and predictions on this matchup, and here's what we came up with.
Despite their 1-2 record, this may be the best team the Bengals will have played thus far. With that said, the Bengals are still the better team. I foresee Cincy striking first and hanging on to a close lead for the rest of the day. I predict a lot of Jeremy Hill to neutralize their fantastic edge rushers, as well as a lot of emphasis on the screen game. 24-17, good guys win.
After watching the Monday night game, it is hard to believe the Chiefs will have any chance in this game. But every time I think that, I recall the Patriots last season coming off a bad loss and then turning their season around against the Bengals. The Chiefs have a ton of talent on their roster but are facing similar issues to what the Bengals have in the past. They have a gun-shy quarterback. They don't push the ball down the field at all so all plays are close to the line of scrimmage. This makes it easy for a defense to cover. I see the Bengals winning this game with a score of 27 - 13.
The Chiefs have no identity this year. Their QB is regressing. Their O-line is a wreck. Their starting corners are a replacement player and Sean Smith is coming back in from suspension. I hope he gets a good stretch in before trying to keep pace with A.J. Green. Can Jamaal Charles get some yards? Possibly.
This is the perfect spot for a Bengals letdown. They're 3-0, drawing a lot of national praise and coming back home off a hard-fought divisional road win. The Chiefs are in desperate need of a win sitting at 1-2, and their much-maligned secondary is getting star corner Sean Smith back from suspension.
The Chiefs also have one the best 3-4 OLB tandems in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. As good as Andrew Whitworth is, even he'll have his work cut out for him, but I'm more worried about Andre Smith, who is quietly having a really bad start. His 7 QB hurries allowed and -7.6 PFF grade are worst of any Bengals player. I really think the Chiefs will attack him early and often to get pressure on Andy Dalton, something the Bengals' quarterback has not faced much through three games.
That should force him into enough mistakes for the Chiefs to capitalize on, combined with big games from Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce, the Chiefs should escape with a narrow 23-20 win, ending the Bengals' bid for their first 4-0 start since 2005.
The Chiefs have a solid front seven and Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce are beasts at their respective positions. However, I think the Bengals' secondary will be able to make the Chiefs very one-dimensional on Sunday and the Bengals will be able to overwhelm the Chiefs secondary with their offensive firepower. Bengals 34, Chiefs 23
The Bengals struggle to contain Kelce but are able to somehow slow Charles down. Dalton has trouble with his o-line facing a formidable front 7 but Gio Bernard lives off swing passes and has another good game. If Kansas is not able to put pressure on Dalton then A.J. Green should feast on their cornerbacks. The Chiefs need to keep the game close for Alex Smith to be good, which is a big if.
A prediction is tough here. On one hand, the Bengals have been playing great football, while the Chiefs have been a little up-and-down, particularly after Monday night. Still, Jamaal Charles is a nightmare and Travis Kelce is as well. If the Bengals can pressure Alex Smith consistently that will be key. I'll say Bengals in a tight one, since they're back at home.
Another year where a team is embarrassed on Monday Night Football before facing the Bengals. As much as that does worry me, this game should be a win for the Bengals. The Chiefs took seven sacks last week and the Bengals defense is much better than the Packers. I expect pressure to cause Alex Smith to have happy feet and allow the Bengals' defense to secure turnovers.
Chiefs DT Dontari Poe is coming off offseason back surgery. Like Geno did last year, Poe looks like he doesn't have the same power and explosion, so hopefully Russell Bodine can hold his own. The offense has too many weapons and I think Marvin Jones is the guy who goes off this week. The Bengals will have to double team Kelce to slow him down, but I'd say this is a 10 point win.
The Bengals really should win this game. Andy Dalton is playing some of the best football he's ever played lately, the defensive line is consistently rushing the passer well, and they've proven they can close out close games against good opponents (see: Chargers, Ravens). We learned last year that the Bengals shouldn't underestimate teams that just got killed on Monday Night Football - but Alex Smith isn't Tom Brady. The Bengals should win by at least a 10-point margin.
The Bengals should look to establish Jeremy Hill early, allowing Andy Dalton to avoid pressure and pick up third downs on play-action passes. Cincinnati should take another 14-10 lead into halftime before getting away from the offensively-limited Chiefs in the second half. Against a tired Kansas City defense, Giovani Bernard and the Bengals receivers should run wild in the fourth quarter. I see Cincinnati winning 31-16.
KC has been getting abused thru the air so far this year - especially by opponent's WR's. But they have been stout against the run. One has to think Cincy tries to get Dalton to Green & Jones early and often, hopefully to build up a lead and take away KC's running game with Charles. Cincy 31 - KC 21