Before the Week 16 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders, our panel of contributors expected the team to deliver a nice Christmas present to its fans: a 29-13 blowout win to clinch the AFC West. Instead, the Chiefs’ 20-14 loss left a steaming chunk of... coal... on the field. Most of our readers also expected a Kansas City victory — but about one in four at least expected a close game.
Let’s see what the staff — and our readers — think about the matchup.
Nate Christensen (@natech32)
I just can’t pick the Chiefs. The Bengals have two extra days of rest compared to Kansas City. The Chiefs are coming off a highly emotional loss — and are enduring a significant number of injuries. And at this point, I have no reason to trust the offense. On Christmas Day, they lost (by multiple scores) to a team that completed its last pass in the first quarter. Until I see something different from the offense, I have no reason to believe they can beat a quality team.
Bengals 17, Chiefs 14
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
The tension inherent in the last four games between these teams — even those in the regular season — has been off the chain. Both teams will have everything on the line; there’s zero chance any player (or coach) on either squad is looking past this contest. Just like we’ve seen in the other recent matchups, both squads are going to leave everything on the field. It’s likely to be a three-point win decided as the clock winds down — or in overtime. I’m picking Kansas City to make the final score.
Chiefs 20, Bengals 17
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
The Chiefs have lacked juice, passion and energy in recent games — but against the Raiders, that came to an embarrassing peak. In this matchup, there are reasons to worry — but the passion it could bring out of the Chiefs is exactly what the team needs. Kansas City’s pass rush will be the key difference-maker on defense — because I believe we’ll see an energized offense give them a lead to maintain.
Chiefs 20, Bengals 12
Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana)
This game feels a lot different now than it did when the schedule was released. The Cincinnati offense just hasn’t been the same since quarterback Joe Burrow went down — Kansas City’s offense is really struggling, too. In the end, this game is going to come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes — and protects the ball. If the Chiefs can lean on their defense and find a way to grind out 17 points, I think they’ll punch their ticket to the playoffs.
Chiefs 17, Bengals 13
Jared Sapp (@TrumanChief)
While the Chiefs left a sour taste in all of our mouths on Christmas, I think they will rebound on Sunday — just as they did against the New England Patriots two weeks ago. Knowing what is on the line, look for Kansas City to come out with more of a deliberate game plan that is aimed at protecting the ball. The Bengals’ defense has given the Chiefs fits in recent years, but that unit was also exploited by a Nick Mullens-led Minnesota Vikings team — and then allowed the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense to explode for 34 points in Week 16. If the Chiefs can take care of the ball, they should find a way to come out on top.
Chiefs 20, Bengals 10
Stephen Serda (@StephenSerda)
The Chiefs’ vibes are not great. It’s not easy to predict they will bounce back after such a stunningly awful performance on Christmas Day. But it’s just hard for me to think they won’t be able to get anything going against a Bengals defense that has been getting torched by opposing offenses in the back half of the season. There are a lot of injuries that come into play in this game — but at the end of the day, I think (and hope) that the Chiefs show up and perform, giving us something to feel good about as we head into the playoffs.
Chiefs 17, Bengals 14
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
At this point, how does one bet on the Chiefs? They've consistently been... inconsistent... losing six games in maddening ways. Unfortunately, the things that caused those losses — turnovers, drops, penalties and so on — haven't gone away. Something has to give. Maybe this is the week Kansas City plays a clean game — and restores our faith in the franchise’s leadership. If that happens, could it be because Isiah Pacheco returns to a central role? Or maybe Mecole Hardman provides a spark? I don’t know. I only know I don’t feel confident about this pick.
Chiefs 24, Bengals 21
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
Last week’s performance has to be rock bottom for the offense — and coordinator Matt Nagy acknowledged as such this week. I know nobody will be surprised to hear this, but I like the Chiefs to reverse their course here. I have said that all season — and maybe that is as simple as seeing how much success Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes have had over the past half-decade. It could be dumb, but I think something finally clicks with the offense, allowing the Chiefs to get by the Bengals by a score. Of course, this comes with a disclaimer: I think wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase playing while L’Jarius Sneed is out would be a significant disadvantage for Kansas City — and enough to tip the scale the other way. Sneed, who couldn’t practice this week, needs to find a way onto the field.
Chiefs 28, Bengals 24
Prop bets (from Pete Sweeney)
Head on over to DraftKings Sportsbook and take...
- Patrick Mahomes over 269.5 passing yards (-115)
- Patrick Mahomes over 1.5 passing touchdowns (-195)
- Chiefs moneyline (-310)
Which team wins Bengals (8-7) at Chiefs (9-6)?
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