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Behind Enemy Lines: A weakness the Bengals can exploit

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We caught up with Peter Sweeney of Arrowhead Pride to ask him some questions about Cincinnati and Kansas City’s Sunday Night Football matchup.

Kansas City Chiefs v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Bengals are about to have a primetime matchup with the Chiefs on Sunday Night. In preparation for a game between two division-leading teams in the AFC at this point in the season, it’s a great time to catch up with Peter Sweeney of Arrowhead Pride to get his perspective on the game.

Patrick Judis: Patrick Mahomes has been on an MVP level of play so far this season. How far has he surpassed your expectations for this season already?

Peter Sweeney: The hype around Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City has been sky high since the Chiefs traded up 17 spots to select him with the No. 10 overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft—that includes internal team media, local KC media, national media, the personnel staff and the coaching staff. All signs pointed to the fact that the kid would have a special career.

The thing that has been the surprise is how soon he has been able to put it together. That part has caught everybody by surprise—including the people who usually have a good idea of what is going on (in the desert). The preseason Las Vegas over/under for Mahomes touchdowns on the season was 23.5. He has 18 in seven games and just four interceptions. I believe his flick-of-the-wrist deep balls and the accuracy of his throws while on the run are unlike anything the NFL has ever seen.

PJ: There is no way around it, the Chiefs offense is absolutely stacked with play makers. Is there any weakness that can be exploited by a defense facing them though?

PS: There is—and it has to do with the offensive line. The Chiefs recently lost two key offensive linemen in starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who recently fractured his fibula, as well as starting center Mitch Morse, who is in the conclusion protocol. “LDT,” as he’s often called in Kansas City, won’t go, and I don’t expect Morse to go, leaving the projected starters as Jordan Devey at center and Andrew Wylie at right guard. Devey has 16 starts to his name and Wylie has never started.

The Chiefs also brought back veteran Jeff Allen this week. He is much more experienced than both Devey and Wylie but hasn’t played since last season. Allen could fit in at either position, but I’m not sure he plays this week. No matter who plays, the right-interior part of the line for the Chiefs could be vulnerable for attack this week.

PJ: Kansas City’s defense has failed to really live up to the standard set by the offense. What is the best way to attack the Chiefs defense, and are they good enough to keep most teams from keeping pace with their offense?

PS: Because the Chiefs are scoring nearly 36 points a game on offense, the defense doesn’t have to be great—it just has to be good enough. And it’s been good enough against every team except Tom Brady and the Patriots. The rushing yards against are slightly better than passing yards against, but neither is very pretty. The positive thing, if there is one, is that the problem could be as simple as missed tackles, which feels solvable.

You can fully expect both running back Joe Mixon and AJ Green to reach 100 yards each, and what will be most frustrating about that as a Bengals fan is that the Chiefs may still be ahead two scores.

PJ: Considering the Chiefs are stacked with household names like Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and more, who is one player on either side of the ball who doesn’t get as much attention as they deserve?

PS: This is a good question. Wide receiver Chris Conley already has two touchdowns on the season, which is a career high. He has become a reliable receiver for Mahomes and is the third man in three-wide receiver sets for the Chiefs. He was playing the best ball before an Achilles injury ended his season after five games in 2017, but he is healthy now and playing well.

Defensively, a lesser-known name for the Chiefs right now is safety Jordan Lucas. Lucas came over in a trade before the season with the Miami Dolphins in a depth safety and special-teams role, but due to injury, Lucas has found himself in the starting lineup and is playing extremely well. Andy Dalton may pick on Lucas, but he should do so carefully. Lucas had one interception off of Blake Bortles and almost got Tom Brady last game.

PJ: What is your prediction for the game?

PS: When writing these up, I like always inform the other staff I picked against the Chiefs Weeks 1 and 2 and last week against the New England Patriots. That being said, I picked this game Chiefs 42, Bengals 28. I think the Chiefs defense will struggle against the likes of AJ Green, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon, but not enough to cost them the game thanks to MVP favorite Patrick Mahomes.

Thanks again to Peter Sweeney for taking the time to answer our questions. You can see more of his work over at Arrowhead Pride.