Three of the four best game predictions that Arrowhead Pride contributors have made for Kansas City Chiefs games this season have all come in the last three weeks — most recently, the ones we made for the Week 12 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Our aggregate prediction of a 34-16 Chiefs victory was 16 points removed from the 26-10 final. Our readers also thought the Chiefs would win comfortably. Nine of 10 thought it would be an easy win — and of those, half predicted a blowout.
Let’s see what the staff — and our readers — think about the matchup.
Price Carter (@priceacarter)
For games as big as this one, it’s hard to avoid narratives like, “the Bengals own the Chiefs” or “Mahomes is going to be locked in and motivated.” Ultimately, all of that stuff sounds great at the microphone on Thursday — but when the players hit the turf on Sunday, none of that matters. What will matter are the strengths of these two teams. The Chiefs need to be able to move the ball as effectively as they have all year. The Bengals are the ultimate weak link defense — meaning that while the team has no defensive superstar, it also doesn’t have a clear weakness. The Bengals rank 29th in sacks, so quarterback Patrick Mahomes should leave the field with a clean jersey after getting lots of offensive opportunities. The Bengals are going to get their points on offense — they’re too talented not to — but I don’t think they can score with Kansas City.
Chiefs 28, Bengals 25
Tom Childs (@tomchilds56)
Revenge is something Patrick Mahomes normally gets if he wants it. First, he got revenge on the New England Patriots for the 2018 AFC Championship. Then he got revenge on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Super Bowl LV. Now it’s time for the Bengals to get their comeuppance. With so much pride riding on this game, I don’t see the Chiefs making the same mistakes that allowed Cincinnati to get two wins over them last season.
Chiefs 38, Bengals 34
Nate Christensen (@natech32)
There’s no other way to say this: last year, the Chiefs failed. In the biggest moment of the season, Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones all failed. They’ve all had all offseason to stew on that — and we’ve seen each of them in peak form this season. All of that work to get back leads to this game. We saw what a locked-in Chiefs team did to the Buccaneers in Week 4. The Bengals are better — but Kansas City arguably has more motivation. I expect the Chiefs to come out firing — but this time, finish the game. Here’s the message they are preparing to send in Cincinnati: “You guys got us last year. But it’s not happening again.”
Chiefs 44, Bengals 31
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
One of the things that I love about Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid is that he works so hard to get his players to treat every game on the schedule as the most important of the season. I think that’s a large factor in the team’s success. But I don’t think there’s a coach on planet Earth who can keep their players from emphasizing a game like this one. Even if Kansas City wasn’t a better team, Cincinnati would be well-advised to watch their butts. But here’s the thing: Kansas City is a better team. Sure... the Bengals are going to put up a fight. But this time, they’re doing down.
Chiefs 34, Bengals 27
Maurice Elston (@recenickelz)
This is the game that everyone has been waiting for. Last season’s AFC Championship left a bad taste in the mouth of every Chiefs fan as we watched Mahomes play his worst half of football. Since then, Kansas City-Cincinnati has turned into an organic rivalry where fans and players seem to dislike each other. All of this built-up anticipation (and tension) will come together on Sunday afternoon in what should be a great game. The Chiefs will be without dynamic wide receivers Mecole Hardman and Kadarious Tonney, while the Bengals get star receiver Ja’Marr Chase back. There is a lot on the line for both teams — and I think both will leave everything on the field. But the Chiefs have a slightly better team — and if they are able to play fairly mistake-free football, they should win this game. This time, I don’t expect a second-half meltdown. Kansas City keeps its hold on the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
Chiefs 35, Bengals 24
Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34)
The Chiefs have been mentally preparing for this rematch since their meltdown during the AFC Championship at Arrowhead Stadium. This time, the game is in Cincinnati — and some key Kansas City players are returning to a familiar area where they could be playing with some extra motivation. Tight end Travis Kelce and safety Bryan Cook both played for the University of Cincinnati — and defensive end Carlos Dunlap played for the Bengals from 2010 to 2020. Cincinnati wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is expected back from injury — and with Tee Higgins recently heating up the Bengals’ passing game, they both pose a big threat. Given the recent history between the two squads, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo shouldn’t be surprised by anything — but playmakers are bound to make plays. Look out for rookie cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Joshua Williams to make major statements in this one.
Chiefs 30, Bengals 23
Mark Gunnels (@MarkAGunnels)
With all the build-up, this feels like a playoff game — even though it’s just a Week 13 matchup. But the stakes are high. Right now, Cincinnati is in a tight divisional race with the Baltimore Ravens, while Kansas City is looking to remain atop the AFC. Considering what happened (twice) last year, it’s hard to pick against Patrick Mahomes. No matter what the players say, there’s no doubt in my mind that for Mahomes, this one is personal. In two of this season’s marquee road matchups, the Kansas City offense put up more than 40 points — one against the Buccaneers and another against the San Francisco 49ers. I expect similar results on Sunday.
Chiefs 38, Bengals 31
Zach Gunter (@ZachGunter08)
Did someone order a close game? Because that’s what this is going to be. The game lines are very tight — and Las Vegas always knows something we don’t. Both teams need this win in order to prove something. The Chiefs have to prove they can overcome the demons of the past. The Bengals need to prove that they are legitimate — that last year wasn’t a fluke. It will be a hard-fought game, but I feel like Kansas City will want the win even more.
Chiefs 30, Bengals 27
Conner Helm (@ArrowheadConner)
This could possibly be the best game of the regular season — and could mark the true start to one of the league’s great rivalries. I fully expect the Bengals’ Ja’marr Chase and Tee Higgins to have huge days against Kansas City’s young secondary. I also expect the Chiefs to be able to move the ball down the field against the Cincinnati defense. But the red zone is where this game will be won or lost. The Bengals rank third in offensive red zone DVOA, while the Chiefs rank 11th. Kansas City’s defense can bend, but it can’t break; to win this game, it will need to hold the Cincinnati offense to field goals in the red zone. I also think that against a middling Bengals run defense, this could be a breakout game for running back Isiah Pacheco. He goes for 150 yards and two touchdowns — and the Chiefs’ defense gets the stops they need.
Chiefs 33, Bengals 23
Ashley Justice (@Justice_Paur88)
When the NFL schedule is released each spring, there are always a few games where you feel certain of the outcome. This is not one of those games. With near-definite playoff implications, the matchup carries a lot of weight; it’s a season-defining game, if you will. To get the win, Mahomes will have to keep being the No. 1 guy. Kansas City’s new wide receiver corps will also have to take advantage of the unfamiliarity that the Cincinnati defense will have with them and their chemistry with Mahomes. Last season’s losses still sting — and the very public trash-talking that’s been going on between these two teams ups the ante even more. So I am going into this game hoping for the best — but preparing for the worst. This will not be an easy game for the Chiefs. But heaven help the Bengals if Petty Mahomes shows up — like I am hoping.
Chiefs 38, Bengals 33
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
If I’m feeling this level of anxiety and excitement leading up to this chance at revenge for last season, I can’t imagine how the players and coaches are feeling. This Kansas City team doesn’t get many chances for payback, because they usually beat everyone. I think we see that passion come through in both strategy and execution — specifically on offense. Patrick Mahomes goes full-on scorched Earth, making a good game from Cincinnati’s offense irrelevant.
Chiefs 45, Bengals 31
Aaron Ladd (aaronladd0)
It’s a game many have had circled on calendars throughout Chiefs Kingdom. We couldn’t ask for Kansas City to be playing any better as we head into this AFC Championship rematch. Andy Reid’s team is riding a five-game winning streak. Patrick Mahomes looks comfortable, running back Isiah Pacheco looks powerful and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce is a legit Offdensive Player of the Year candidate. But the Bengals have been a thorn in the Chiefs’ side — especially recently. Now on a three-game winning streak, I expect Joe Burrow’s best shot in a game that means more than most.
Bengals 32, Chiefs 27
Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana)
It’s not 2021 anymore, sweetheart. A lot of things have changed in the last year — but the Bengals haven’t changed all that much. They still have all of their core pieces in place, but their offensive line isn’t that much better than the unit that was one missed Chris Jones sack away from sending Kansas City to the Super Bowl in their place. They didn't do much this past offseason to get better — and that should concern them. The Chiefs, on the other hand, have vastly improved their ability to win on short to intermediate routes — and look as dynamic as ever. There are Taylor Swift-levels of bad blood between these two teams, which will make it a fun game to watch — especially when Kansas City coasts to a breezy two-touchdown victory that all but crushes Cincinnati's playoff hopes.
Chiefs 34, Bengals 20
Ricko Mendoza (@ricko_mendoza_)
The matchup between the Chiefs and the Bengals has the highest projected point total of the week at 52.5 — and rightfully so, because it features two high-powered offenses headlined by two of the best quarterbacks in the game: Mahomes and Burrow. Despite a modest game last week (by his lofty standards, at least), Mahomes continues to play at an MVP level — throwing for at least 320 yards and averaging two touchdowns in the past six games. To add to that, Mahomes usually elevates his performance to another level in these kinds of revenge-narrative games. Barring the effects of sleep deprivation after welcoming in his new baby son this week, I expect Kansas City’s superstar quarterback to lead the team to victory — but it will be close.
Chiefs 33, Bengals 30
Stan Nelson (@chiefsfanstan)
Before the season started, this was originally seen as just a revenge game. But now, it has now taken on much more significance. Just like the game against the Buffalo Bills, this game carries significant playoff and seeding implications for both teams — and both know it. So look for Mahomes and the Chiefs — and also the Bengals — to play their A-games. Finally, we will see if Kansas City’s two losses to Cincinnati last season were just an aberration — or if the Bengals just have the Chiefs’ number. It is going to be a close, knock-down, drag-out game. The winner will be determined which team makes a play on defense or special teams.
Chiefs 27, Bengals 24
Tom Ruprecht (@truprecht)
The return of Chase and running back Joe Mixon scares me, but this is one of those weeks where I just put my faith in Mahomes. The Chiefs were in revenge mode against the Buccaneers — and I hope to see that gear again on Sunday. I think the Lou-Anarumo-has Mahomes-figured-out narrative has been overblown. I also suspect that Chase’s tweeting will inspire a big game from Justin Reid. While the Chiefs’ biggest opponent can be their own complacency, I don’t see that as being a worry against the Bengals.
Chiefs 31, Bengals 24
Kramer Sansone (@KramerTalks)
I would love to bet the Over in this game — but I highly doubt that happens. I do think that Ja’Marr Chase being back will be a big factor in the outcome. It also doesn’t help with that Justin Reid was calling out Cincinnati players. I think the Chiefs’ defense will dominate the running game — but not the passing game. Meanwhile, the Bengals will apply pressure to Patrick Mahomes, getting him out of the pocket to force throws. This game will be decided by a field goal.
Bengals 24, Chiefs 21
Jared Sapp (@TrumanChief)
After hearing all season that every team treats its game with the Chiefs as their Super Bowl, the Bengals finally present an opponent Kansas City should be extra motivated to beat. The Chiefs’ roster moves this offseason — trading stardom in the receiving room for better all around depth and a retooled secondary — appear to have been responses to the shortcomings the team displayed against Cincinnati in January. The Bengals appear to be peaking at the right time — and present a formidable challenge — but I do not believe Patrick Mahomes will lose to the same team three times in a calendar year. The Kasnas City pass rush also appears in a better place and likely will not give Joe Burrow as many chances as it did last season. Should be Bengals again be able to thwart the Chiefs’ passing game by dropping eight into coverage, running back Isiah Pacheco looks like he has been primed for a heavy workload.
Chiefs 31, Bengals 27
Nick Schwerdt (@nick_schwerdt)
Seldom — if ever — has revenge been a factor for Patrick Mahomes entering a game. The second half of the 2021 AFC Championship was perhaps the only time in his career where you could say that his play cost Kansas City a game. I’d imagine those two quarters of football have stuck with Mahomes for the past 10 months — and have influenced how this team’s offense has (once again) evolved into the league’s most dangerous unit. The Bengals are trending up at the right time, but I think the Chiefs are out for blood.
Chiefs 27, Bengals 24
Stephen Serda (@StephenSerda)
Getting Ja’Marr Chase back is huge for Cincinnati’s already-talented offense. The Bengals were hitting their offensive stride even without Chase in the lineup, so his return should only mean good things for them. There’s also been a lot of chatter between these two teams, so we should be in for a show. But I think the difference in this game won’t be MVP front-runner Patrick Mahomes. Instead, it will be defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Here in Kansas City, I believe he’s having his best season as a play-caller — and we’ll find out if he can keep that up with his young defense against this talented passing attack. I think we’ll see a shootout — but if we get Good Spagnuolo and MVP Pat, the Chiefs will prevail.
Chiefs 38, Bengals 34
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
In this game, there’s no shortage of motivation for either side. The Chiefs have had Week 13 flagged from the time the schedule came out, looking to avenge two costly losses from last season. Then some talk by Kansas City safety Justin Reid gave the Bengals’ star receiver some bulletin board material. Even without that stuff, it would still be an important AFC matchup featuring two potentially great offenses. With a Chiefs win, games against Cincinnati could turn into a rivalry — or with a loss, into one of those “they just have our number” matchups. But plenty has changed since the Bengals won twice last year. The Chiefs’ defense is almost entirely a different unit. With youth, speed and a much-improved pass rush, it can hang with the best offenses in the league. Perhaps most importantly, it is an elite second-half unit, showing it can adjust when needed. But Patrick Mahomes is also a different quarterback than he was last season, demonstrating improved pocket presence, patience and command; I wouldn’t expect the second-half meltdowns that he had against the Bengals in 2021. Those two factors tip the scales in the Chiefs' favor — and they’ll rise to the occasion.
Chiefs 35, Bengals 27
Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_)
This one has regular-season-game-of-the-year written all over it. The storylines have been built-in from a year ago — and with all the trash talk taking place this week, things continue to get interesting. For the Chiefs, this game could very easily be what cements the AFC’s top seed for them or not. I think the focus and motivation they have to make a statement here will be at an all-time high. Two very talented teams will square off, but just one of them is going to be coached better: Kansas City.
Chiefs 37, Bengals 28
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
Given the remaining Chiefs’ schedule, the Bengals seem to be the last real obstacle in what projects to be a great opportunity to have the playoffs once again run through Arrowhead. Given the gap between Kansas City and the next tier of teams has narrowed, this is critical. I like this year’s Chiefs team much more than last year’s — and that feeling revolves around the defense’s ability to pressure the quarterback. Even with a returning Ja’Marr Chase, I like the Chiefs’ chances of keeping them under 21 points.
Chiefs 34, Bengals 20
Dakota Watson (@dwatson_56)
The Chiefs’ two first-round draft picks were made because of deficiencies that contributed to their 2021 losses to the Bengals: Kansas City could not muster a pass rush to put pressure on Joe Burrow — and had absolutely no answer for Ja’marr Chase. I think that in this game, we’ll see improvement in both these factors — despite an improving Bengals’ offense. Chris Jones is playing the best football of his career — and since the return of Trent McDuffie, the secondary has played well. It’s going to be a close game, but I think a laser-focused Mahomes plays his best ball of the season (Wow!) while the defense does enough for the team’s 10th win of the season.
Chiefs 38, Bengals 30
Which team wins Chiefs (9-2) at Bengals (7-4)?
This poll is closed
Chiefs in a blowout (14 or more 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
|24||24||Ron Kopp Jr.||8||3||0.7273||26.2|
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.
For the Rams game, two AP contributors turned in predictions with only eight points of error: Kramer Sansone and Bryan Stewart both thought Kansas City would win 30-13. Four others made picks that were only 10 points off: Nate Christensen (30-9), Price Carter (31-13), Jared Sapp (31-10) and Stephen Serda (31-13).