One of the perceived biggest games of the year is on deck, as the Cincinnati Bengals get set to host the Kansas City Chiefs at Paycor Stadium. The latter is looking to exact revenge on the former for two big losses last year, while the home team is seeking to further their stance in the AFC playoff picture.
To get a peek over the fence at the Kansas City Chiefs this week, we enlisted the help of Tom Childs at SB Nation’s Arrowhead Pride.
1.) AC: I think most folks are at least a little bit surprised at how the Chiefs have been able to move on and still be AFC top dogs without Tyreek Hill in the mix. It seems, from the outside looking in, like the pass-catching groups (wideouts and tight ends) have all either upped their games and/or each bring an element to recreate the things Hill did in a committee fashion. Is that an accurate statement?
TC: Absolutely. The Chiefs have done an excellent job of acquiring contributors recently. Before this year, everything went through Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce with very little for anyone else .— not that we can blame Reid and Mahomes with two future Hall-of-Famers at their disposal.
Now things are very different. Yeah, Travis still gets his, but the other guys are sharing the wealth. Against the Rams, Patrick Mahomes completed passes to ten different players. I don’t care who the defensive coordinator is — accounting for so many weapons is a monumental task for anyone.
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2.) AC: Give us an insight on the Chiefs’ rushing attack, if you will. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had everyone’s attention as a rookie, but that early shine has dulled. Yet, we know Andy Reid and Eric Bienemy can come up with a lot of things for the offense, so what should we look for on the ground this week?
TC: They’ve been riding Isiah Pacheco a lot recently. Some will be quick to point to Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s injury as the reason for the upturn in Pacheco’s carries, but the truth is that Clyde’s role in the offense was diminishing long before that.
The Chiefs have always had a ’running back by committee’ approach since Kareem Hunt was released. However, right now, is probably the furthest the Chiefs have been from that. Pacheco has averaged 18 carries a game over the last 3 weeks, while Clyde has only averaged 11 per game in his entire career. The Chiefs clearly love Pacheco and are more than willing to let him go to work.
3.) AC: The Chiefs have lost and gained high-profile players on defense. We know the beast that his Chris Jones, but let us in on how rookie corner Trent McDuffie and familiar face Carlos Dunlap have looked since coming to Kansas City.
TC: There are two positions in the NFL that you never want to hear the names of when watching a game: one is offensive line and the other is cornerback. Put it this way: we never hear Trent McDuffie’s name being called.
Like the receivers, the defensive back room in Kansas City had a massive overhaul during the offseason with Justin Reid, Jaylon Watson, Joshua Williams and Trent McDuffie replacing Tyrann Mathieu, Charvarius Ward, Rashad Fenton and Daniel Sorenson. I would say they were quietly going about their business nicely this season — well at least until Reid opened his mouth this week.
Carlos Dunlap has been very welcome addition to the Chiefs. Like Melvin Ingram last year, the addition of a veteran pass rusher to the Chiefs defensive line has made them more dangerous. Now obviously, he isn’t the every down terror that you were all used to during in his time in Cincy, but as a situational pass rusher, he has exceeded expectations.
4.) AC: We’ve heard some “Brady-Manning” rivalry chatter this week, and while I personally don’t think it’s there yet, this is quickly becoming an emotionally-charged matchup. Aside from two marquee quarterbacks going head-to-head, there’s the recent history of Kansas City losing some big games to the Bengals (2003 and the two last year, for instance), as well as the Justin Reid/Hayden Hurst back-and-forth this week and the glut of Chiefs players with some kind of tie to Cincinnati (Dunlap, Travis Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster). Is this almost becoming like an additional divisional game in the eyes of the Chiefs and their fans? It seems to be trending that way on the Bengals’ side of things...
TC: Don’t hate on me, but right now I would say that Josh Allen is Patrick Mahomes’ Peyton Manning. We’ve seen these two players go at each other five times now — and we’ve them playing on the most consistent teams in the AFC, I think Allen has earned the right to the Mahomes’ biggest rival.
I can already hear the cries of ‘yeah, but Joe is 2-0 against Pat’. Yes, I know and thank you for reminding me. Perhaps if Mahomes is Brady then Burrow is Eli Manning. I’m kidding, of course.
The Bengals are now another annoying little brother that the Chiefs have to deal with. Them alongside the Chargers, Bills and the Ravens will be in the mix every year. While I expect the Chiefs to win more Super Bowls with Mahomes at the helm, I have no doubt that at least 3 of Burrow, Allen, Herbert or Jackson will block the Chiefs path to the Super Bowl on more than one occasion.
5.) AC: DraftKings has the Bengals as three-point underdogs at home this week. How accurate do you think that line is and are you expecting the Chiefs to exact revenge on Cincinnati this week?
TC: You alluded to it in your last question but yes, I do think the Chiefs are gunning for revenge on the Bengals. For the same team to get them twice in five weeks in almost the exact same fashion, it would have made a huge dent in the Chiefs’ pride.
Mahomes himself mentioned the fact that he is 0-2 against Burrow on the New Heights Podcast with Jason and Travis Kelce. Being the ’ultimate competitor’ he is, Mahomes especially will be looking to serve a nice cold dish of revenge on his counterpart.
Like normal, I think Vegas has the line about right. Both teams roll into this week in a fine run of form, but I will always back Patrick Mahomes in games many consider toss-ups. I also think the Chiefs defensive line has unfinished business against Joe Burrow. For all of the Bengals’ greatness against the Chiefs last year, the inability of the Chiefs to torment Burrow in the AFC Championship Game was the big difference.
I have the Chiefs winning this game 38-34, although I’ve got a sneaky feeling that these two will be facing off again in Arrowhead this January. For me, that would be the real rematch.
Thanks for having me and enjoy the game.