OK, so the Chiefs won’t be going undefeated. The silver lining, if there ever is one in a loss, is that it took a last second field goal for Tom Brady and New England to dispatch Kansas City at Foxborough.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 15, 2018
There’s no rest for Andy Reid‘s group, though. The Chiefs host one of the AFC’s other playoff contenders when Cincinnati comes to Arrowhead for Sunday Night Football. A win keeps Kansas City in charge of the conference. A loss, and suddenly the view from the top becomes crowded.
What would help the Chiefs tame the Bengals?
Vontaze Burfict vs. Travis Kelce
Despite a host of fines over the years, Cincinnati’s Burfict doesn’t appear interested in changing. NFL types spent the week discussing what punishment the linebacker should get for his hit on Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown.
Vontaze Burfict leading with his shoulder into the head of a Steelers WR?!? Color us shocked. pic.twitter.com/3ITg4Kghql
— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweetss) October 14, 2018
As it turns out, the league doesn’t appear to be concerned over Burfict’s latest cheap shot, so he should be on the field Sunday. Unfortunately for Kansas City, he’s actually an equal opportunity offender. Burfict hits quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends with equal menace.
While the Chiefs can least afford to lose Patrick Mahomes, it’s Kelce who will be exposed the most. The Kansas City tight end is second among NFL tight ends with 33 catches for 468 yards. Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s defense has struggled against tight ends, giving up 14 catches and 129 yards to the Steelers’ group.
For his part, Kelce isn’t worried about facing Burfict. In fact, he doesn’t think the hit on Brown was any big deal.
Chiefs' Travis Kelce goes to bat for Vontaze Burfict https://t.co/kDUwIg3Fn9
— The Bengals Wire (@TheBengalsWire) October 20, 2018
We’ll see what Kelce thinks come Monday morning.
A.J. Green vs. Kendall Fuller
Two weeks ago, Fuller and the Chiefs secondary came alive against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last week, Brady had them looking like the woeful unit from the season’s first four weeks.
Perhaps its because he plays in Cincinnati, but Green frequently gets lost when people discuss the NFL’s best receivers. That doesn’t mean that he can’t destroy even a good defense.
With #NFLPartner #NFLGamePass, watch how AJ Green can break the heart of an opposing defense and fanbase. Relive his game-winning TD catch that gave Cincinnati a big road victory. See more at https://t.co/CKsOG5jGei pic.twitter.com/zv3Al9vx0b
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 6, 2018
In fact, he’s one of the toughest covers in the NFL.
Fuller was the player that Kansas City brought in to take the place of Marcus Peters, but the results have not been great. After giving up 247 passing yards a game last season, the Chiefs are currently surrendering 340.3 yards through the air, next-to-last in the NFL.
Safety Jordan Lucas has been coming on strong in recent weeks, but its the corners who will have to keep Green in check. There’s plenty of debate about where Andy Dalton ranks among quarterbacks, but he’s plenty good enough to take advantage of a weak secondary.
Fuller, Steven Nelson, and Orlando Scandrick need to put up at least some resistance to keep from getting into a shootout with Dalton and Green.
Tyreek Hill vs. Dre Kirkpatrick
This just in, the Cheetah is one dangerous cat.
75-yard touchdown. 💥
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) October 15, 2018
Coming into the season, pass defense was expected to be a strength for the Bengals. Cincinnati finished eighth in the NFL in passing yards allowed last season. Things have not gone according to plan.
The Bengals pass defense hasn’t been as bad as Kansas City, but that’s not saying much. Cincinnati is 28th in the NFL, giving up 292 yards. Kirkpatrick hasn’t come up with an interception yet this season, and neither have his corner counterparts William Jackson and Darqueze Dennard.
Kelce is a threat for the Chiefs. So are Sammy Watkins and Kareem Hunt. Hill, though, is a game breaker. He torched New England for three touchdowns (even if one wasn’t actually meant for him).
The Bengals did a decent job on Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown — right up until they lost him at the worst possible moment.
Great WiFi. pic.twitter.com/lwbrtLAqSX
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2018
Hill isn’t as consistent as Brown, yet, but like the Steelers great, he doesn’t need much of an opening to tear the heart out of a defense. If Cincinnati has any hope of coming up with a road win in Kansas City, they can’t afford to let the Cheetah run loose.