The Cincinnati Bengals travel to Kansas Cito to take on the Chiefs on Saturday night. These teams faced each other in the 2018 regular season, with the Chiefs winning 45-10 at home.
Taylor takes over for Lewis
Marvin Lewis was a fixture with Cincinnati for 16 years, but had not won a playoff game (0-7). His Bengals finished 6-10 last season and that was the final straw for owner Mike Brown. Enter 36-year old Zac Taylor, an offensive disciple of Sean McVay from the Rams. The Bengals offense wasn’t very good last season as they accumulated just 310.8 yards per game overall (26th) and 105.1 rushing yards (21st). The offensive line wasn’t bad after adding left tackle Cordy Glenn and center Billy Price. It should be even better with rookie Jonah Williams from Alabama. Williams is coming off shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, so this is looking like a redshirt season for him. Cincinnati may also miss star WR A.J. Breen (46 for 694 yards) for the first 2-3 games as he’s coming off surgery for torn ligaments in his ankle. TE Tyler Eifert (ankle) is also recovering from surgery to his ankle and may not be ready for Week 1.
So, that means more pressure on veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, coming off a mediocre year with 2,566 yards passing (21 TDs, 11 INTs). Running back Joe Mixon has the chance to become a star (1,168 yds, 8 TDs, 4.9ypc) and receiver Tyler Boyd (76 catches for 1,028 yds) has become one of Dalton’s favorite targets.
Defense is also an issue, though they are strong upfront with Pro Bowlers Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. Yet, they finished 32nd in the NFL in overall defense (413.6ypg) and 32nd against the pass (275.9ypg). They were also a pitiful 32nd on third-down defense. They didn’t address defense in the draft until the selection of OLB Germaine Pratt from NC State. Pratt should help one of the weakest parts of the team at linebacker.
Zach Taylor’s Motto: Practice Makes Perfect and he wants his practices to embrace competition at every position.
“That was a good one,” Taylor said. “So you just take that idea, and you do some other stuff on the field and try to create your own scoring systems. Again, when it’s scripted the guys are out there and, yeah, they’re giving their all. But it’s a little bit different when there’s something on the line. And it’s competitive, and there’s a scoring system in place. So we just want to provide as much competition as possible.”
What can Mahomes do for an encore?
Kansas City went 12-4 last season, but fell in the AFC title game to New England, 37-31 in overtime. NFL MVP Pat Mahomes was simply brilliant in his first full season at quarterback, throwing for 5,097 yards, 50 TDs and 12 picks. WR Tyreek Hill was the league’s top vertical threat with 87 catches for 1,479 yards and 12 TDs (and one of the most controversial off of it). TE Travis Kelce is the league’s top receiving tight end, catching 103 passes for 1,336 yards and 10 TDs. The Chiefs brought in running back Carlos Hyde to help stabilize the running back corps now that Kareem Hunt is gone (Cleveland).
The Chiefs lost a lot on defense in the offseason, but that may not be a bad thing considering they rank 31st in total defense (405.5ypg) and 31st against the pass (273.4ypg). They released OLB Justin Houston and S Eric Berry, while dealing OLB Dee Ford (13 sacks) to San Francisco. That’s despite being tied with the most sacks in the league with 52. Bob Sutton is now gone as defensive coordinator with Steve Spagnuolo in. The secondary was a major concern and they brought in veteran S Tyran Mathieu (Houston) and CB Bashaud Breeland (Green Bay). In the draft, the Chiefs went surprisingly for offense, trading up to get WR Mecole Hardman (5-10, 187) from Georgia as insurance in case Hill was suspended (he wasn’t). They also drafted safety Juan Thornhill from Virginia with the other second-round pick.
Kansas City is:
- 23-36 ATS as a fave in preseason.
- 2-5 ATS last 7 home games.
- 4-0 ATS last 4 road games.