Chiefs vs Bengals Prediction: KC to find a way to get back on track

 | December 29 | 

5 mins read

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The second of the live Sky Sports NFL games on Sunday evening comes from Kansas City where the slightly reeling Chiefs welcome in the injury-hit Bengals.

@NFLGirlUK previews the game and we offer up two betting selections for the encounter...

Chiefs vs Bengals Betting Tips:

  • Back Under 44.5 Total Points @ 5/6
  • Back Kansas City HT/FT @ 4/6

There’s going to be a ton of tension between these two teams. The Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs have faced off in some big-time games over the last few years, though this one will look completely different. The Bengals won’t have Joe Burrow, and the Chiefs have an offense that feels utterly dysfunctional.

Before we get into that Chiefs offense, let’s talk about the Bengals. They lost Burrow to a season ending injury and the year was thought to be over for them. Instead, backup Jake Browning stepped up and won three straight games to keep them alive.

Unfortunately, in a must-win game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he threw multiple interceptions in a loss. They have very little chance of making the playoffs at this point, and Ja’Marr Chase might not even suit up if it will risk his future health. Browning will have his work cut out for him.

Flipping to their defense, Cincinnati took a huge blow when they lost DJ Reader for the remainder of the season. The big defensive tackle was their best run stopper, and without him, their defensive line looks lost against the run.

Pittsburgh took advantage of it early on, and when you’re weak against the run, you’re weak against everything. The ground game opens up the entire field, and Cincinnati already has had struggles on that side from time to time. If they can’t force the Chiefs into passings situations, they won’t be close at the end.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs are not the same team that we’ve seen in the past. Most of that rests upon the fact that this offense doesn’t have playmakers besides Travis Kelce. Kelce is getting up there in age and opposing defenses know that he’s going to be the primary target on every single passing down.

When you take Kelce out of the play, who does that leave? Well, you have Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, Noah Gray, and Justin Watson. Will these players scare opposing defenses? No, they won’t.

Defenses are smart enough to understand who their matchups are and are likely okay with allowing those guys to beat them and refusing to let Kelce beat them. We’ve seen that story all season, and it won’t be changing anytime soon. This has resulted in Patrick Mahomes and Kelce getting frustrated early and often. It’s also why they just can’t get into sync with one another. To make matters worse, it’s not just that those aforementioned players aren’t exactly top-tier weapons, it’s that they’re making simple mistakes consistently.

We’ve seen a few devastating offsides calls, multiple incorrect routes ran, and an overall lack of chemistry with Mahomes. At this point in the year, it’s a concern. One guy that deserves a mention though is Rashee Rice, because this rookie has been the only other reliable weapon for Mahomes. He has trust in him as well, which is why he’s got 811 receiving yards, second on the team behind Kelce. The next closest is Watson with 419. Mahomes is phenomenal still, and so is Kelce, but the rest of the offense is getting to a point where it’s unfixable.

If Joe Burrow were the starting quarterback for this game with Chase healthy alongside him, there’s no doubt that I’d take Cincinnati here. Sadly, that won’t be the case. Which is why I believe that the Chiefs find a way to win thanks to a soft run defense without Reader available. If the Chiefs get their ground game going early, then Mahomes will have much easier lanes to throw the ball through and could get Kelce involved all night afterwards.

Match Odds:

So many column inches have been written about the problems in Kansas City this season but they still roll into Sunday's game as the 1/3 betting favourites on the Money Line. You can back Cincinnati to win at 12/5.

The spread has been set at KC-7.5pts, meaning the oddsmakers think the Chiefs should win by about a Touchdown. They do not expect a plethora of points however, with the Total set at 44.5, which is about middle-of-the-pack for Week 17.

Bet 1 - Under 44.5 Total Points @ 5/6

We are all just so used to seeing Patrick Mahomes sitting back in the pocket and finding open guys all over the field but that is not the Kansas City offense so far in 2023.

They've only cleared the 21 point mark once in their past four, and that was in a 27-point effort against a very poor New England Patriots side. They just don't score big any more, and if you couple that with no Joe Burrow and no Ja'Marr Chase for Cincinnati, the under feels like the way to go here.

Bet 2 - Kansas City HT/FT @ 4/6

Whilst I'm down on Kansas City in terms of their offensive firepower this season, I do have healthy respect for their defense. The injury-issues that the visitors have simply cannot be ignored, and that is the primary reason I'm going with KC.

This is a low-scoring game but the Chiefs do just enough to get out to a small early lead and find a way to hold on throughout the 60 minutes. Going with them to also be ahead at HT bumps the price from 1/3 to 4/6.

Remember to check out our NFL Betting Tips index page where we preview games live on Sky Sports along with a weekly Predictions column...

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