It was anything but normal for the AFC Divisional round as we witnessed two great games. The Bengals took care of business against who many thought would win it all in the Buffalo Bills. Weather played a major factor, as well as a head scratching Bills game plan, but they controlled the game from start to finish. They now get a date with the Chiefs, a team that is suffering a major question mark at quarterback as Patrick Mahomes battled through an injury early on. Can the Bengals capitalize on a hobbled Mahomes and stamp their ticket to the Super Bowl?
Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs Betting Odds
Oddsmakers didn’t think so as they initially opened the Bengals as a +3 underdog to the Kansas City Chiefs. Bettors were quick to attack the head scratching spread as they have now backed the Bengals all the way down to a -1 favorite. This is heavily correlated with the injury concerns of Patrick Mahomes as the offensive production would take a drastic cliff dive should he not be able to give it a go. Even a hobbled Mahomes is better than most quarterbacks in the league and his arm will be much needed to keep their offense within scoring pace of the high-powered Bengals.
Speaking of scoring pace, oddsmakers believed points were to be scored at a lightning-fast pace as they opened the total at 52.5. Bettors are tempering their expectations at the scoring pace, backing the under down to as low as 47 as of writing. Multiple factors play into this, making it an immediate pass for me. One being Mahomes’ health as previously mentioned, while the Bengals offensive line is still facing injury concerns themselves.
Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs Prediction
The Pick: Bengals ML
With that said, I believe we will witness the Bengals make their Super Bowl return after a disappointing narrow loss in last year’s big game. The backups on the offensive line played a great game in protecting Joe Burrow, giving enough time for the pass attack to develop and torch the Bills through the air. It does need to be noted that a snow game benefits the offensive line in terms of footing, but they still thoroughly dominated and gave me enough confidence to back them in this one.
Speaking of the pass attack, Jamarr Chase and company are poised for a big outing as the Chiefs defense has once again been their Achilles heel. Especially through the air, a secondary that ranks a lowly 20th in Def Pass DVOA. Should they not be able to generate backfield pressure and force Joe Burrow to make quick decisions, then they are in danger as the Bengals’ receiving core is one of the most lethal units in the league.
What makes the Chiefs defensive play more vital than ever is their major blow to their offensive production with injury uncertainty for Patrick Mahomes with a high ankle sprain that won’t be going away anytime soon. Whether it’s him or Henne, the efficiency and scoring pace will take a dip. This may be easier said than done as they rank 17th overall in Def DVOA. They can neutralize their weakness by ramping up blitz packages, abusing their backup offensive lineman.
- Under is 9-3 in their last 12 meetings against each other
- Home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings
- Bengals are 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings against each other
Cincinnati Bengals Injuries: Jonah Williams (O), Tre Flowers (D), Alex Cappa (Q), Ted Karras (Q)
Kansas City Chiefs Injuries: Patrick Mahomes (Q), Mecole Hardman (Q)
Can the Bengals defense take advantage of a weakened Chiefs offense and secure the win?
Chiefs pass efficiency vs Bengals secondary
Since the emergence of the Bengals over the course of last year, they have shared the same identity as the Chiefs in terms of fielding a high-powered pass attack while their defense has been their weak point. The difference this year is that the Bengals defense has drastically improved, currently ranking 11th Overall in Def DVOA.
A big part of their success has been the improvement of their secondary, ranking 12th in Def Pass DVOA. Eli Apple has still continued to struggle at times but has received help which helped boost the defense as a whole.
Should the Bengals be able to send pressure toward a hobbled Mahomes, especially if he is unable to scramble effectively, then this would ease the burden of the secondary and give them ample opportunities to create Havoc. Look for Cincy to smother Kelce and force Mahomes to look elsewhere in their revamped offense that relies on clean looks for sustained success.
Back the Bengals on the moneyline as they should be able to capitalize on a weakened Chiefs offense with a hobbled Mahomes being unable to play up to his usual standard. The Bengals scoring pace will be too much for the Chiefs to keep up with, stamping their ticket for redemption in the Super Bowl.