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Way-too-early schedule predictions: Bengals vs. Chiefs

Can the Bengals make it three in a row vs. Pat Mahomes?

NFL: JAN 30 AFC Conference Championship - Bengals at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It took just one season for Joe Burrow vs. Patrick Mahomes to become one of, if not the best NFL QB rivalry for the foreseeable future.

After all, it was Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals who took down Mahomes and the Chiefs not once but twice last season, both in last-second thrillers.

The first came in Week 17 when the Bengals overcame a 28-14 deficit to win 34-31 and clinch the AFC North in front of a rocking Paul Brown Stadium crowd.

Then came the rematch in the AFC Championship, which saw Burrow’s Bengals go down 21-3 before rallying to win 27-24 in overtime, denying Mahomes’ Chiefs a third-straight Super Bowl berth.

The last three Super Bowls have now seen one of Burrow/Mahomes in the big game, and there’s a good chance that happens again this coming season. The Bengals made dramatic improvements to the offensive line and will likely be a better overall team when the 2022 season begins.

The same is not true for Kansas City, who traded away three-time First-Team All-Pro wideout Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. It can’t be overstated on how big of a loss that is, as Hill already looks well on his way to a Hall of Fame berth and has finished with a PFF score of 80+ every year he’s been in the league.

The Chiefs did manage to land JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce is still in the fold, so this passing game is still going to be very dangerous.

Then there’s of course the revenge factor playing into this Week 13 showdown at PBS. I’d be willing to bet this is the No. 1 regular-season game the Chiefs are gunning to win this season after Cincinnati kept them out of the Super Bowl.

While the Bengals did well this offseason when it came to upgrading the trenches, the Chiefs have a very strong contender for the NFL’s best offensive line. After all, they were breaking in four new starters last year in left tackle Orlando Brown, guard Joe Thuney, rookie center Creed Humphrey and rookie guard Trey Smith.

Now that this group has a full season of building chemistry under its belt, this will be an offensive line that absolutely mauls even the best defensive lines, and I believe they’ll take firm control of the Bengals’ front seven.

Plus, I just don’t see a healthy Patrick Mahomes losing three-straight games to anyone, so I’m giving this one to the Chiefs in what should be another thrilling shootout.

ESPN FPI: Bengals have a 46.6% chance to win.

My prediction: Chiefs 34, Bengals 28

My predicted record thus far: 10-2

Let us know how you see this matchup playing out!