The Cincinnati Bengals will look to keep their undefeated record going when the Kansas City Chiefs come to Paul Brown Stadium for a Week 4 clash.
Sitting at 3-0, Cincinnati has a chance to not only stay undefeated through the first quarter of the regular season, but even build a two-game lead in the AFC North race. After the Pittsburgh Steelers lost Thursday night, the Bengals are assured to end this week leading their division, win or lose.
Kansas City is just trying to stay alive for a possible playoff berth at 1-2. Coming off a 38-28 loss that saw the Chiefs trail by as many as 24 points, the Chiefs are just trying to get a win to stay at the .500 line. A loss this week would put them at 1-3, a tough hole to climb out of and have a winning record, let alone earn a playoff berth.
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco thinks the Chiefs' quick turnaround after playing Monday night to now come to Cincinnati is too much for them to overcome.
This is a tough turnaround for the Chiefs after getting blown out Monday night by the Packers. The Bengals are playing really well right now and that will show up here. The Chiefs secondary will have no answer for A.J. Green. The Bengals get to 4-0.
The Pick: Bengals 28, Chiefs 20
Sports Illustrated notes how the Chiefs must improve upon their third-down conversions if they are to beat the Bengals, who will be facing their toughest test in pass protection thus far:
If Kansas City stands any chance of pulling out the victory, they’ll have to improve their third down efficiency. The Chiefs have converted just five of their 30 third down opportunities this season, and their 17% conversion rate ranks dead last in the league. The Bengals defense is stingy, having allowed a measly 36% third down conversion rate thus far, so the Chiefs don’t appear to have the greatest matchup here.
A key matchup will be the Chiefs pass rush against the Bengals offensive line. Andy Dalton has been sacked just twice this season, but the Cincinnati offensive line hasn’t really been tested, facing three teams with a combined 13 sacks.
With the Chiefs getting Sean Smith back this week to go with promising rookie Marcus Peters, they'll have a formidable pair of boundary corners to go against the Bengals. That means whoever lines up in the slot could be getting a lot of targets in this one. Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer did a nice breakdown of who's been lining up in the slot and what kind of production they've had there.
Here are the details on the Bengals in the slot:
Player: Percentage routes out of the slot, total routes run
Mo Sanu: 86.3%, 63
A.J. Green: 21.3%, 20
Tyler Eifert: 20%, 17
Marvin Jones: 12.8%, 11
Taking an even deeper look at this topic, you can see the production out of the slot for each player as well. That shows where the sweet spot has been for the Bengals and A.J. Green.
Sanu: 8 targets -- 5 receptions, 77 yards
Green: 5 targets -- 5 receptions, 133 yards, 3 TDs
Jones: 0 targets
Eifert: 2 targets -- 2 receptions, 12 yards, 1 TD
ESPN Bengals beat writer Coley Harvey sees the Bengals getting the win if they can win on first and second down to force Alex Smith to beat them on third-and-long situations, something he's been very poor at doing.
If the Bengals shut down Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and the rest of Kansas City’s offense on the first two downs Sunday, they will be able to blitz Smith the way the Packers did Monday night, when Green Bay sacked Smith seven times. It’s no surprise Kansas City has the league’s worst third-down conversion rating (5-for-30). A defense’s pass-rush aggressiveness also can be impacted by a large scoreboard lead. So far this season, the Bengals are outpacing opponents 52-6 by halftime. They’ll get another big lead Sunday.
Bengals 30, Chiefs 21
At Odds Shark, the Bengals are a four-point favorite heading into Sunday's matchup with an over/under set at 45. Here's some recent betting trends to know as well.
Kansas City is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games
Kansas City is 3-6 SU in its last 9 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Kansas City's last 6 games
Kansas City is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
Cincinnati is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games
Cincinnati is 8-3 SU in its last 11 games
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Cincinnati's last 12 games
Cincinnati is 14-4-1 ATS in its last 19 games at home
As for everyone else's picks, it's unanimous at ESPN, where all 13 analysts are picking the home team. The CBS Sports panel is all-in on the Bengals as well with all seven experts going with the boys in stripes.
The SB Nation team is also mostly in agreement with a 7-1 edge for Cincy. Only Joel Thorman (who covers the Chiefs for Arrowhead Pride) keeps it from being a clean sweep for the Bengals.
If you're counting, that's a 28-1 edge for the Bengals over the Chiefs in terms of expert's picks. Hopefully, that ends up being the case and Cincinnati will earn their second home victory this season.