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Bengals vs. Chiefs: 5 matchups to watch

Both teams are desperate. Here are a few matchups to keep an eye on.

Syndication: USA TODAY Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cincinnati Bengals, coming off a loss to the Steelers, are hanging on to the ledge of the building. If they fall, they’ll be eliminated from playoff contention. They’ve got two fingers left on the ledge, and standing above them with a hammer is the Kansas City Chiefs.

Luckily for the Bengals, the Chiefs, who usually have a very big hammer, haven’t been themselves lately and are wielding a much smaller tool than usual. That’s a dumb way of saying the Bengals are hanging on to their playoff hopes by a thread after their loss to the Steelers, and now a struggling Chiefs team, looking for a get-right game, are hosting the Bengals.

Things don’t look good for the Bengals, to be honest, but at the same time, they don’t look great for the Chiefs either.

Here are a few matchups to keep an eye on.

Andy Reid vs. Lou Anarumo

This is the big one. Neither Reid nor Anarumo are working with a full deck. Reid doesn’t have any great wide receivers and Patrick Mahomes’ connection with future Hall of Fame tight end Travis Kelce doesn’t look to be as strong as it once was. Anarumo is without the most important player on the defense, DJ Reader, and he has an extremely athletic, but very young secondary.

Anarumo is going to have to figure out new ways of stopping the run without Reader that still allows linebackers to play sideline to sideline. Hopefully Anarumo is able to use what he has to continue to force the Chiefs to struggle offensively.

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Bengals linebackers/safeties vs. Travis Kelce

As stated, Kelce hasn’t looked quite the same as time has gone on this season. It could be a combination of extra attention due to the fact he’s by far the biggest receiving threat on the team and his age. Then again, it could be Taylor. Who knows.

What I do know is the Bengals haven’t been great against tight ends, and there are no more potentially dangerous tight ends in the NFL than Travis Kelce. The Bengals used to have Tre Flowers, who was their tight end specialist, but he left with Jessie Bates III in free agency for Atlanta.

Alex Cappa/Cordell Volson vs. Chris Jones

The Chiefs have the fourth most sacks in the NFL and Chris Jones, rushing from the outside shoulder of the guard, has the most on the team. He’s among the best defensive tackles and most disruptive players in the NFL, and he’ll be looking to keep Jake Browning from looking like he did against the Jaguars and Colts.

The Bengals offensive line has played well more often than not, which has definitely helped Browning and the offense, and if the Bengals offense is going to move the ball better than they did against the Steelers, Jones will have to be kept in check.

Trent McDuffie vs. Tee Higgins

It’s doubtful that Ja’Marr Chase is going to play, and Chiefs corners L’Jarius Sneed and Jaylen Watson didn’t practice on Wednesday either. That means McDuffie and Higgins are going to be the big names battling on Sunday. Sure, there’s no guarantee that Higgins and McDuffie will ever be one-on-one, but it’s possible it’s McDuffie is going to be surrounded by backups on Sunday.

Higgins has proven over and over again that he’s a true No. 1 receiver. Hopefully, he’s on the Bengals roster next year, even if it’s on the franchise tag, but one day, Higgins is going to get paid a ton of money, and he’s going to deserve every single penny.

Wanya Morris vs. Trey Hendrickson

With Donovan Smith out, it’s backup Wanya Morris who’s going to play left tackle for the Chiefs. Smith has missed the last several weeks and will remain out this week. Morris has done well as a pass blocker, only allowing one sack so far.

He hasn’t played against Hendrickson yet this year, though. Hendrickson has 16 sacks, third most in the NFL, and is on a roll, with at least one sack in seven consecutive games. He’s only sacked Mahomes twice in all the games he’s played against him in a Bengals uniform.

Hopefully, that number goes up on Sunday.

What matchups are you on the lookout for?