All but one of Arrowhead Pride’s contributors picked the Kansas City Chiefs to prevail over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16 — but while one of our staffers did call for a blowout, most thought it would be a close game. None of us really foresaw the 36-10 beatdown the Steelers suffered in Arrowhead Stadium; our composite prediction of a 23-16 Chiefs win carried 38 points of error. Our readers were a bit more confident the Chiefs would win big. About three in five thought Kansas City would at least win easily — and about one in seven thought it would be a blowout.
In Week 17, the Chiefs are on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored by five points. Let’s see what the staff — and our readers — think about the matchup.
Tom Childs (@tomchilds56)
For all of the talk of Burrow against Mahomes, the real story is Burrow against Steve Spagnuolo. We’ve seen time and again how Spags likes to throw as much as possible as young quarterbacks — Sunday should be no different. On the other side of the ball, the Bengals simply don’t have enough to stop a Chiefs offense that has its’ mojo back. Chiefs 35, Bengals 19
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
On paper, this looks like a game that Kansas City should win 27-24. But as I noted a couple of weeks ago, the Chiefs have wadded up the original piece of paper and thrown it in the trash. Now they’re writing a new narrative on a fresh sheet. When I picked the team to beat the Steelers 27-21, I had forgotten about that. For now, I’ve learned my lesson. Chiefs 31, Bengals 17
Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34)
This late in the season, a big matchup between two division leaders is always exciting to see. In order to maintain their grasp on the number one seed in the AFC playoffs, the Chiefs must win. Meanwhile, the Bengals have been one of the league’s more inconsistent teams, having lost to both the Jets and the Bears — and beating the Jaguars by just three points. But they have had some nice wins, too — so for Kansas City, this will be far from a shoo-in victory. Joe Burrow sure looks the part — and he’s coming off a big 525-yard, four-touchdown game. But Cincinnati’s offensive line can be exposed — and against the Kansas City’s talented defensive front seven, they could struggle. The Chiefs’ offense gets Travis Kelce back — and Tyreek Hill will be looking to rebound. Chiefs 35, Bengals 21
Kristian Gumminger (@kgumminger)
I’m just like everyone else who believed that this game was a gimme at the start of the season — but behind a healthy Joe Burrow and an arsenal of playmakers, the Bengals have been exciting this year. Still, even with all the highlight plays and Joe Burrow lighting up the stat sheet, the Cincinnati offense still ranks 19th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric — primarily because the offensive line is poor. That unit has given up 47 sacks and ranks 30th in pass protection. Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be able to use his front four to apply pressure, forcing Burrow into negative plays. If they can, that will force Burrow into forcing some plays downfield — and that’s where Juan Thornhill will come into play; he’s my player to watch. With his range, he’ll be able to cut off some of those deep shots; I think he’ll get an interception. This one will be fun. Chiefs 30, Bengals 24
Mark Gunnels (@MarkAGunnels)
When they face the Bengals, the Chiefs will be nearly 100% healthy for the first time in a while. Before the season, this game was seen as a lock — but now, Cincinnati has a chance to clinch the AFC North with a win. That being said — I believe the Chiefs have heard all of the chatter surrounding the Bengals — this will be an opportunity for them to put them in their place. I fully expect the offense to move the ball up and down the field. But the difference in this game will be the Chiefs’ defensive front against the Bengals’ weak offensive line; they’ll be able to make Joe Burrow uncomfortable enough. Chiefs 34, Bengals 24
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
The Bengals’ Joe Burrow (and his arsenal of offensive playmakers) can be explosive and dangerous — but the group hasn’t been unstoppable. When they’ve faced tougher defenses during their recent stretch, it hasn’t been as easy as it was last week when Burrow threw for 525 yards against a depleted Ravens defense. The Chiefs’ defense has solidified itself as one of the NFL’s elite units — and the biggest factor has been the pass rush. On the other side, Cincinnati has been able to mask bad offensive line play — but against Kansas City, that won’t be as easy to do. The defense makes enough plays to allow the offense to control the game, riding their current momentum in both the running and passing game. Chiefs 30, Bengals 22
Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana)
This Bengals offense is the exact opposite of the decrepit Steelers offense that limped into Arrowhead last week. Wide receivers JaMarr Chase and Tee Higgins can stretch the field and run the entire route tree. Joe Mixon is one of the NFL’s most athletically-gifted running backs and second-year quarterback Joe Burrow is the national media’s new “it” boy. But with Travis Kelce and Nick Bolton both clearing COVID protocols, the Chiefs are back to full strength. The Chiefs need this game to hold onto the No. 1 see in the playoffs — and the Bengals need it to clinch their division. Both teams should come ready to ball out, so expect fireworks from both sides. Regardless, Kansas City is the NFL’s best team, so expect them to land enough shots to put these big ol’ kitty cats down. Chiefs 38, Bengals 34
Kramer Sansone (@KramerTalks)
I might be the only person who thinks this won't be a shoot-out. I get it: Joe Burrow threw for over 500 yards last week — but I don't see Burrow doing much through the air this Sunday. The Chiefs’ defense has been really good against the pass this year — and if it does rain or snow in Cincinnati as expected — then it will be a ground game. Joe Mixon is the better running back in this game — but I don't think it will matter. Patrick Mahomes will find his way to win this game — especially with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill fully back. Dink-and-dunk passes will win this game for the Chiefs. Chiefs 28, Bengals 20
Jared Sapp (@TrumanChief)
Cincinnati is a good team — but after dominating a decimated Baltimore Ravens team, it seems they are getting some excessive national love. The Chiefs will expose the Bengals’ two fatal flaws. First, their offensive line is not good enough to hold up against Kansas City’s deep pass rush; the Chiefs should be able to get home with four rushers. And after missing last week’s game, Travis Kelce will come into Cincinnati hungry — against a defense that has given up over 100 receiving yards to tight ends in each of the last three weeks. Look for Mahomes and company to neutralize an underrated defensive line with short passes en route to another efficient day. Chiefs 31, Bengals 20
Stephen Serda (@StephenSerda)
Cincinnati is one of the league’s most intriguing young teams. Assuming they address their offensive line, the Bengals will be a popular preseason pick to be a legitimate AFC contender in 2022. But with this season’s wide-open AFC, they could easily surprise people in the playoffs. The Cincinnati offensive line has been up and down this season, so the Chiefs’ pass rush should be able to give it some problems — and that will be the difference-maker in this contest. There will still be some points available, but the Chiefs' experience — and the fact they can clinch AFC’s No. 1 seed — will be enough to propel them to their ninth straight victory. Chiefs 34, Bengals 27
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
You should ignore the national pundits and Twitter analysts who have been trying to build up Joe Burrow and the Bengals. They’re coming off of a huge offensive game against a badly depleted Ravens team, leading to some recency bias. Those same analysts are forgetting the incredible run the Chiefs’ defense has been on — and the last three games where the Chiefs’ offense has been clicking again. There’s a reason we put Kansas City back on top of the NFL rankings this week: they’re playing really good football in all phases — and building some depth that will help carry them through the postseason. Sunday’s game against the Bengals should be fun to watch. Maybe it will end up more like the Chargers game than the Steelers game — but either way, expect the Chiefs to come out on top. Chiefs 42, Bengals 35
Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_)
With their young offensive core, the Bengals are going to be one of the AFC’s better teams for a long time — but right now, I’ve got way too much respect for how Kansas City is playing on both sides of the football to pick against them. This is late-season football, where Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes have truly dominated for the last few seasons. Although the Bengals’ offense is coming off a record-breaking week, the Baltimore Ravens’ defense they were playing is not healthy — nor close to what the Chiefs’ defense will present. We could see a rematch against Cincinnati in about a month — but for now, I foresee Kansas City putting a finishing stamp on their regular season with yet another impressive victory. Chiefs 34, Bengals 17
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
The reigning AFC offensive player of the month (Patrick Mahomes) and the reigning AFC offensive player of the week (Joe Burrow) are likely to draw the audience’s attention in this game — and deservedly so. These two quarterbacks — both in their mid-20s — look like they could be battling it out in the conference for the foreseeable future. But when I look at this game, what stands out most is the grand mismatch between a relentless Chiefs front four and a Cincinnati offensive line that gives up a third-worst 3.1 sacks per game — and 3.7 in its last three. It may sound bold, but I like the Chiefs to get home 5.0 times against the Bengals. I also think that after a one-game absence, Travis Kelce will explode in his college city. The Chiefs go on the road and win comfortably — while peeking to see if yet another Miami upset clinches some much-needed rest on Wild Card Weekend. Chiefs 35, Bengals 22
Ethan Willinger (@ecwillinger)
The Bengals are an ascending team — but the Chiefs have re-established themselves as the class of the AFC. With each passing week, Kansas City has patched its holes. Cincinnati, on the other hand, still has a few glaring ones. While the Bengals’ skill players have the talent to turn this game into a shootout, they can be exploited in the trenches. That’s precisely the type of football the Chiefs have been preparing to play ever since their loss in Super Bowl LV. I think Kansas City keeps rolling. Chiefs 34, Bengals 17
Which team wins Chiefs (11-4) at Bengals (9-6)?
This poll is closed
Chiefs in a blowout (at least 14 points)
Chiefs in an easy win (8-13 points)
Chiefs in a close game (7 or fewer points)
Bengals in a close game
Bengals in an easy win
Bengals in a blowout
|14||14||Ron Kopp Jr.||9||6||0.6000||36.8|
Ties in the standings are broken with prediction points error — how much each prediction misses the actual point spread and the number of points scored by each team.
In Week 16, Matt Stagner was the only member of the staff to predict the Chiefs would beat the Steelers in a blowout. His 35-17 prick had 16 points of error, giving him his second win in three weeks. Stephen Serda’s 24-13 prediction was the next closest prognostication — but was off by 30 points. The staff standings remained relatively unchanged.