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NFL Week 7: 4 key matchups to watch for between the Bengals and Chiefs

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Vontaze Burfict and William Jackson will be squaring off with two of the Chiefs’ top playmakers.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Do you like points with your football games? If so, then Bengals vs. Chiefs on Sunday Night Football is the game for you.

Even though the temperature is expected to range in the mid-50s for an 7:20 CST kickoff in Kansas City, two of the worst defenses will have to defend two of the best offenses in the NFL. Whichever offense takes advantage of their favorable matchup the most will likely come out victorious, but the individual matchups in this contest are very much intriguing as well. Here are the few that you should pay attention to.

TE C.J. Uzomah vs. LB Anthony Hitchens

The Bengals have seen Tyler Boyd emerge as Andy Dalton’s savior over the middle and underneath intermediate zone coverage this season. Last Sunday against the Steelers, Uzomah thrived in a similar role. In his second start of the season with no Tyler Eifert nor Tyler Kroft, Uzomah was running routes from the slot a lot more often than from an inline alignment. He finished the game with six receptions for 54 yards, and he could do even better this week.

The Chiefs deploy a linebacker that might be worse in coverage than anyone the Bengals have in Hitchens.

Hitchens has been abused in the passing game this season and has been anything but reliable in his zones. Uzomah should have little trouble finding space over the middle and up the seams against the Chiefs defense with Hitchens still patrolling it.

Hitchens was a surprise addition to the Chiefs’ injury report on Thursday but got a full practice on Friday and is good to go for the game. With no Eric Berry as well, Uzomah’s day should be promising.

RG Alex Redmond vs. DT Chris Jones

I could’ve mentioned right tackle Bobby Hart’s matchup with defensive end Dee Ford here, but Redmond has shown to be the weaker link in pass protection, and he has a tall task on Sunday. Redmond remains one of the worst pass protecting guards in the league, and Jones’ ascension into one of the more well-rounded young interior pass rushers has been a joy to watch for someone like me that has liked him since he declared for the 2016 NFL Draft.

Jones can win with an array of pass-rushing moves, and you just have to expect him getting past Redmond at least a few times in this game. Hopefully Dalton can get the ball out quickly with Jones in his face.

LB Vontaze Burfict vs. RB Kareem Hunt

Truth be told, aside from the antics that have been all over the news this week, Burfict didn’t play well at all against the Steelers. He missed tackles and was at times lost in closing down on his run fits. That didn’t fly against the Steelers running game lead by James Conner, and it won’t against the Chiefs lead by Hunt.

As it turns out, the Chiefs are really good at rushing off their left tackle Eric Fisher with Hunt even though they don’t do it often, and the Bengals rush defense towards that gap is considerably worse than when they defend runs towards the right side of the formation. This is a matchup the clearly favors the Chiefs, and if they’re smart, they’ll try to exploit it. Burfict plays most of his snaps on the right side of the defense, which is the left side of the offense, and should have a busy day plugging holes for Hunt on runs towards that edge.

Along with all that, Hunt will also get targets out of the backfield, and Burfict’s open-field tackling will be put to test against a back who can create so many yards after contact.

CB William Jackson vs. WR Tyreek Hill

After a relatively sluggish start to the season, Jackson has strung together two consecutive quality starts against the Dolphins and Steelers. He’s now faced Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, and his next opponent may be the most dangerous.

Hill is the ultimate game-breaker in the sport. Maybe only John Ross is faster, but when Hill has the ball in his hands, he’s nearly impossible to catch. Pundits will say he can’t run a full route tree, and he’s shown that even if that’s true, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things — he’ll still take the top off your defense.

Jackson rarely gets burned deep, but Hill is such a rare talent in his own right. The Bengals can try to give him help with a safety bracketed overtop of him, but in an offense with Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins also a part of it, Hill will no doubt get one-one-one chances. And it’s not just Jackson he’ll be facing; Hill lines up in the slot and on both sides of the formation out wide. But Jackson is the Bengals’ best chance to stop him. If he gets beat a couple times, so be it — Hill is that good. But Jackson needs to make sure it’s not an all-game affair.