There’s not much left for this iteration of the Cincinnati Bengals to prove. They’re entering December with a top-12 units on offense and defense according to DVOA and EPA/play, and they’re 4-2 against clubs with winning records, including their most recent win against the Kansas City Chiefs. And not that we need to verify their success, but they’ve done all this while suffering key injuries throughout the season.
Injuries continued to play a factor into Sunday’s win as Joe Mixon remained sidelined in the concussion protocol, and another offensive starter went down in the first quarter. Let’s see what the snap counts tell us from the Bengals’ eighth win on the year.
This usually doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to the Chiefs, as they consistently create new series on first and second down, but the Bengals beat them at their own game. The Chiefs 55 snaps reflects the 83.3% series conversion rate they achieved, but the Bengals one-upped them with an 86.7% rate, and had 72 total snaps on offense. On early downs, the Chiefs were also behind the Bengals on success rate, 51% to 56%.
It’s good that Hayden Hurst (9) got some targets before a calf injury took him out of the rest of the game. Early involvement for the Bengals’ tight end has been the norm this season, and after a week of... let’s call it ignorance from Justin Reid, it was nice seeing him move the offense twice.
Once Hurst exited the field, it was Mitchell Wilcox (52) taking the lion’s share of the snaps in 11 personnel, which reflects the depth chart. Devin Asiasi (18) came on mainly for running plays. If Hurst is to miss extended time, this is how the snaps would likely be split going forward.
The expectation was for Tre Flowers (6) to see plenty of playing time to match up with Travis Kelce. That just didn’t happen, and it worked out wonderfully.
Kelce was shutout in the first half and his longest reception of 19 yards ended with the football getting taken away from him by Germaine Pratt (43). Opting to stay in nickel instead of dime paid off in the end, and was necessary with how successful the Chiefs were running the ball to start the game.
The conversation of depth usually involves players stepping in for injury, ala Wilcox replacing Hurst. What’s equally important is how effective reserves can be in situational moments.
The trio of Joseph Ossai (12), Trenton Irwin (9), and Chris Evans (2) played a combined 23 snaps, and all three made key plays. Evans was schemed wide open at the goal line for his second career touchdown, Ossai tracked down Mahomes in the pocket for his second career sack, and don’t overlook Irwin’s 12-yard catch on first-and-20 that set up Joe Burrow’s 16-yard improv scramble.
Bengals’ snap counts vs. Chiefs
|Stanley Morgan Jr.||WR||6||8%|
|Jessie Bates III||S||53||96%|