Final score predictions for Chiefs vs. Bengals in Week 17
The Cincinnati Bengals have a shot at an AFC North crown and could help Sunday not be the final homestand of this year if they can get the best of the visiting Kansas City Chiefs.
Those Chiefs, the AFC’s top seed at 11-4, come to town winners of eight in a row. Patrick Mahomes, after his coaches helped adapt to what defenses did differently defensively this season, has cleaned up the turnover issues and has thrown for 4,310 yards and 33 touchdowns against 13 picks.
Helping along the Chiefs offense is a top-10 defense in terms of pressure rate that ranks in the top five with just 20.4 points allowed per game.
Joe Burrow, owner of 4,165 yards and 30 touchdowns against 14 interceptions, has had some big complementary help from a defense that only lets up 21.4 points per game and generates plenty of pressure thanks to Trey Hendrickson’s career-high 14 sacks, among others.
But with the offensive line missing a starter like Riley Reiff at right tackle, relying on Burrow to play hero ball to match Mahomes in a shootout could be problematic against this defense.
Trusting Burrow after his franchise-record 525 passing yards last week is a no-brainer. But playing conservatively like they have against recent opponents is a recipe for disaster. The defense can’t match most tight ends, let alone Travis Kelce, so falling behind early might be too much for even Burrow to overcome.
What’s concerning here is twofold. One, Cincinnati’s current two-game streak came against so-so opposition. The same can’t be said for Kansas City’s eight-game streak, which includes wins over Green Bay, Dallas, the Chargers and two over the Raiders (41-14 and 48-9).
Second, the coaching disparity. Zac Taylor’s improved over the three seasons he’s been a head coach now, clearly. But there have still been some game-management issues, especially when it comes to being properly aggressive, that have hurt the team. Odds are Andy Reid isn’t going to have those same problems.
So while we know Burrow vs. Mahomes is going to be a blast — and likely one of the AFC’s top feuds for the next decade or so — there are things going on around the quarterbacks that could ultimately decide this one. Unless there’s a barrage of game-changing turnovers, the Bengals are just short in a few key areas (like the offensive line and matchups with tight ends).
Prediction: Chiefs 30, Bengals 27