Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs face the Cincinnati Bengals. According DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favorite to win. We welcome Antoine Cosenza of Cincy Jungle – our sister site SBNation covering the Bengals – for Five questions with the enemy.
1. Despite the injuries, the Bengals are on a roll. What was the key to their success?
There are a few keys to their success. Joe Burrow has largely eliminated turnovers since the Week 1 debacle against the Steelers is probably the biggest. The guys on offense just step up when called, especially with the absence of Ja’Marr Chase for the past five weeks (example: Tee Higgins had two 100-yard receiving games and two touchdowns in the past five weeks). last four games with chase out—the Bengals have gone 3-1 in that streak).
Clearly, the rebuilt offensive line and its four new starters are also playing better than the unit last year. Cincinnati adjusted its wide-zone running style to a few more RPO plays, while also having to make early-season adjustments to defenses showing plenty of two-deep safety looks in a bid to remove Chase from the equation. . They did it, showing patience and executing the short and intermediate passing game at a very high level.
Another savvy and under-the-radar move was to switch bettors. Drue Chrisman has been a weapon over the past two weeks when games have had periods of positional field battles.
2. Ja’Marr Chase burned down the Chiefs’ secondary last season. Can he be stopped? How did the other teams fare against him?
It’s been a really interesting week to watch Chase and see what he can do. There were rumors that he would be back last week against the Titans, but all parties decided another week off was best – and they were able to pull off a huge win over Tennessee without him.
I don’t think it will be on a field account, in itself — but I think Cincinnati will try to keep involving other targets like Higgins and Hayden Hurst (not “Tyler Higbee”) with One. Tyler Boyd has been a bit quiet the past two games, so I’m curious to see what happens with him when Chase returns.
But if Chase is at or near 100% – which the timeline and extra rest suggest – it’s hard to stop him. It will be a matter of stepping up the Chiefs’ defense — and/or any rust Chase may have accumulated while rehabbing the hip injury.
The Steelers, Cowboys and a few other teams early in the season used forms of Tampa 2 defensive looks to limit Chase’s impact and take the ball deep. While it worked from a macro standpoint (losses), Chase still had a big game in Week 1 against a solid Pittsburgh defense.
3. Tyler Boyd said Mahomes-Burrow is the next Brady-Manning. Do you agree?
I agree it’s headed in that direction, but it’s still pretty early days. I love Boyd, what he does on the field and in the locker room – and I appreciate his hype for this game – but I still think there are a few more chapters to be written before we really reach that peak.
Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if some (or more) players from both teams believe that sentiment. Both teams know they currently have two of the best quarterbacks in the league and the prevailing opinion is that they are two perennial teams in the playoffs – until history says otherwise.
It’s pretty neat to see a handful of quarterbacks from the 2017, 2018 and 2020 drafts starting to lead the league right now – and all of them are in the AFC (Burrow, Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa). Still, with only Burrow and Mahomes from this group currently showing they have the ability to take their team to the big dance, it looks like Kansas City-Cincinnati could be in line as the next New England/Indianapolis (or Denver) .
4. Who have been the best defensive players for the Bengals this season?
Edge defenseman Trey Hendrickson is playing solid football, with six sacks, two forced fumbles and a number of hits and pressures. Fellow defenseman Sam Hubbard is also having a solid year, being a well-balanced guy against the pass and the run.
Safety Vonn Bell has four surprise interceptions this season, while linebacker Logan Wilson remains a problem for opposing offenses.
Two guys on different trajectories that no one talks about yet:
The first is the DJ Reader nose reader. He’s a huge run-stuffer that brings a surprising amount of pass-rush ability, simply because he clears blocks so well.
Second is rookie corner Cam Taylor-Britt, who was forced to start action due to a knee injury to Chidobe Awuzie. CTB took chunks, but it has shown considerable growth over the past two weeks. Keep an eye out for issue 29 this week, for better or worse.
5. The Chiefs are slight favorites. Do you think that’s right? How do you think this game will go?
I think that’s a fair line, but we know to expect the unexpected here. We also know that – given recent history – even if Kansas City gets pretty big in the first half, Cincinnati will almost certainly make it a game in the last two (if not more) quarters.
Honestly, neither result would surprise me. Kansas City picked up a win last week over the defending Super Bowl champions and looks to have plenty of hands on deck for this one. They also seem to have this game circled for a long time and want revenge.
But Reid’s comments and the media not giving the Bengals much of a chance may have pushed a bear here. Starting 0-2, Cincinnati went 7-2, winning three of four without Chase — including against the AFC South Titans in Tennessee. Cincinnati is also healthier – and this team plays its best when in doubt.
I’ll take the Bengals in a squeaker: 31-30. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Kansas City took this one.
Be sure to check the answers I gave to their questions in click here.