AFC Vegas Lines and Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs vs Cincinnati Bengals

Kurt Boyer

In another BetFirm preview of Week 7, I reference the “religious” aspect of quarterbacking and how fans and bettors perceive great QBs.

As opposed to the spiritual approach of “believing in” one guy or another as an NFL signal-caller, I prefer the angle Peter King of Sports Illustrated as espoused in which all QB play is part of a timeline. Today’s GOAT is tomorrow’s has-been…we’ve seen that process play out recently with none other than Peyton Manning.

In other words, Patrick Mahomes may not be the most-talented maestro ever to stand in the pocket for the Kansas City Chiefs. That distinction goes to Joe Montana. But boy, oh boy, is Mahomes ever making the most from his time atop the wheel.

The Chiefs are only a (-6) favorite to beat the Cincinnati Bengals at home this Sunday night. Considering that “best offense in the NFL” has been a consensus around the squad for over a month now, at first glance you would think that the Vegas consensus would be a tad more generous.

But NFL point spreads tend to be below a TD unless a strong team is playing a poor one.

Who: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs

When: Sunday, October 21st, 8:20 PM EST

Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO

Lines: Cincy (+6) at KC (-6) / O/U Total: (58)

Kansas City Chiefs vs Cincinnati Bengals: Handicapping the AFC

The Chiefs have been electric to watch. The offense is everything Andy Reid imagined when he shipped Alex Smith off to Washington in order to start Patrick Mahomes. Through 6 weeks, the Chiefs rank as the NFL’s most efficient team with the football.

Mahomes had a nervous start last week, throwing 2 1st-half interceptions against the Patriots in prime-time and falling down 24-9 at the half. Mahomes still led KC all the way back, eventually losing to Tom Brady 43-40. Mahomes threw for 352 yards and 4 touchdowns in the game.

The weakness is clearly the defense. The Chiefs rank 27th in the league in points allowed per game and 28th in defensive efficiency. Cincinnati should look to exploit KC on the ground, as KC sports the league’s worst run defense. The Chiefs are built to out-score teams, not to stop them. So far, the only team they’ve been unable to outscore is one led by the best 40-something QB what the gods ever created.

Cincinnati sits at a relatively-surprising 4-2, but is coming off a not-at-all surprising 28-21 loss to the Steelers. Steelers-Bengals games are always hard hitting, brutal contests. Since 2016, the Bengals are 1-3 the week following a scrum with the Steelers.

Cincinnati’s offense is much improved in 2018 under new OC Bill Lazor, and the local press is offering nothing but praise:

The Bengals knew drastic changes were in order after they finished last in the league in offense in 2017 and Andy Dalton suffered through his worst season since he was a rookie. They changed the playbook, bolstered the offensive line and decided to set Dalton loose. One month into the season, he’s back in a comfort zone and producing as well as ever.

Dalton’s resurgence has been the most notable aspect to Cincinnati’s 3-1 start. He was nearly perfect in the first half of a 37-36 win at Atlanta on Sunday, missing only two passes while throwing for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also led a winning 16-play drive, connecting with A.J. Green on a 13-yard touchdown with 7 seconds left.

Dalton has thrown for 11 touchdowns in his first four games, the best opening stretch of his eight-year career. He also has more completions and attempts than in any previous four-game start as coordinator Bill Lazor puts the onus him to lead a reconfigured offense still learning nuances of the playbook. Dalton is known for getting into a rhythm and getting rid of the ball quickly in Cincinnati’s West Coast offense. He never got into a rhythm last season because he rarely had time to set and throw. The offensive line was so inconsistent that there was little running game, either, leaving Dalton as a target. He was sacked 13 times in the first four games of 2016 and 14 times over the same span last year. He’s been dropped only seven times this season despite throwing more often.

The Bengals got 2nd-year RB Joe Mixon back last week against Pittsburgh after he missed a few games following a minor knee procedure. Cincinnati hasn’t lost this year when Mixon carries the ball close to 20 times. Expect Lazor to take a more run-heavy approach this week at Arrowhead, both as a way to re-integrate Mixon back into the full offense and as a way to keep the potent Chiefs offense on the sideline.

Cincinnati’s defense isn’t great in their own right, but as we’ve seen with the Chiefs again and again, it doesn’t really matter. They’re going to score, you just have to find ways to score with them.

Prediction and Pick ATS: KC Chiefs vs Cincinnati Bengals

I’m liking the Chiefs to cover, since playing at home is such an advantage for an OL which is already playing at a high level. Against the Bengals, whichever offense can get the edge will complete more passes in the flat. Neither team will be all that vulnerable to the bomb, meaning that Reid’s methodical offense will control and win the game.

Take Kansas City (-6) at Arrowhead.

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