The Kansas City Chiefs fall 27-24 to the Cincinnati Bengals and drop to 9-3 on the year. This loss drops the Chiefs from the top seed in the AFC to second place behind the Buffalo Bills for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Chiefs had the lead and the ball in the fourth quarter and managed to squander yet another lead to what has suddenly become the Chiefs’ kryptonite. Here are the five things I took away from the loss in The Jungle.
Bengals Have The Chiefs’ Number
When Kansas City plays the Cincinnati Bengals, a quote from the James Bond movie, “Goldfinger,” comes to mind. “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.” The Chiefs have now dropped three straight to the Bengals, all in an incredibly similar fashion. Despite all of the perceived advantages Kansas City has over Cincinnati, the result of the actual games being played has been the same.
Three times the Chiefs have faced the Bengals. Three times the Chiefs have had leads in the second half. Three times the Chiefs have taken home a fat L. The Bengals have beaten the Chiefs in nearly every situation. At home, on the road, in the regular season, and in the playoffs, the Bengals have had the Chiefs’ number.
Fans can make excuses all they want. “Oh well, the Chiefs beat themselves in all three games.” “The Chiefs clearly have more talent” “If the Chiefs stars just show up, then this would have been different.” Unfortunately, excuses do not equal wins. The facts are that the Chiefs have blown second-half leads in all three games, two of which were at home, and one was last year’s AFC title game in Arrowhead.
The time for excuse-making is over, as the Bengals clearly have bragging rights for the time being. The only way to rectify that situation is to beat them on the field. The Chiefs may get that chance again in the playoffs, but they will have to hold this L until then.
Chiefs Stars Outplayed By Bengals Stars
The great Santana Moss once said: “Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.” The past three times Kansas City has played the Cincy, it has been the Bengals studs who have been making those plays and not the Chiefs. Week 16 of the 2021 Season went down in fantasy football history as the Ja’marr Chase Game. Chase had 11 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns. That performance won fantasy championships for nearly everyone that had him on their teams, as well as secured a win at Arrowhead for the Bengals.
Less than a month later, Kansas City gagged away a 21-3 lead (also at home) capped off by a disgusting Patrick Mahomes interception in overtime. Last Sunday, it was the normally-reliable Travis Kelce who fumbled away a victory.
This trend is especially worrisome because the Bengals are slated to be a playoff team for the foreseeable future and a roadblock the Chiefs need to get over if they want to win more than one Super Bowl during Patrick Mahomes’ tenure in Kansas City. Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow has outplayed Mahomes in all three matchups, which adds fuel to the hot-take machines that love to knock Mahomes down a few pegs.
Burrow is a phenomenal quarterback, but I cannot get my arms around the idea that Burrow is a better quarterback than Mahomes. The Bengals’ stars do not make the kind of mistakes the Chiefs’ stars make in these games, and that has been why the Bengals have won three straight. Mahomes and the rest of the Kansas City stars just need to prove it on the field.
Kansas City’s Pass Protection Needs Work
Another parallel that can be drawn from this losing streak to the Bengals is the difference in pass protection for both quarterbacks starting with Patrick Mahomes. The pass protection has been one of the weaknesses of this Kansas City team all year and had another negative impact on this game. Mahomes was sacked twice, hit eight times, and was under pressure seemingly for the entire game. The Bengals, much like most other teams in the NFL, did not have to blitz hardly at all to keep Patrick Mahomes under constant duress.
Bengals defensive tackle DJ Reader absolutely feasted on backup offensive lineman Nick Allegretti who was substituting for an injured Joe Thuney. Offensive tackles Orlando Brown and Andrew Wylie continued to be the worst duo in the NFL, as they are now first and second in pressures allowed.
Brown especially has been disappointing. This season is his contract year, and instead of playing his best football, he is allowing pressures like this against a three-man rush and the game on the line. It is utterly unacceptable for a team with playoff aspirations, and it is even worse when you see the opponent’s quarterback having all day to throw for the entire game.
Kansas City Pass Rush Still Not Great
Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense did whatever they wanted on offense because there was never a threat of a pass rush from the Chiefs. Everything defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could come up with to put pressure on Burrow ended up as a failure. The Kansas City defensive line with Chris Jones, Frank Clark, and company again could not break through a Cincinnati offensive line that came into that game allowing more than three sacks per game. The only sack they did have was late into the fourth quarter when the game was already lost.
Kansas City is averaging over three sacks a game on their own, but it seems like they hit a wall whenever they go up against Joe Burrow. Burrow does have a fantastic ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly, but he still gets sacked more than average, so why can the Chiefs not get there?
That question is what frustrates Chiefs fans more than anything. If our defensive line with Chris Jones, Furious George Karloftis, and Frank Clark can’t get by this offensive line, then what are we doing? Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor should not be out coaching Spags this badly this often, but here we are. Hopefully, the Chiefs will get another shot at them down the road.
Kansas City Still Has Time To Get Healthy And Control Their Destiny
The best thing to come from this loss is that we now know precisely how the Chiefs, as they are currently constructed, stack up against the best teams in the NFL. With losses to the top-seeded Buffalo Bills and the now-three-seed Cincinnati Bengals, there have been chinks in the Chiefs’ armor that are pointed out for all to see. Now, they can go to work on fixing them before the playoffs start.
There are still five games left in the regular season, so there is plenty of football left to be played. Out of the Chiefs, Bengals, and Bills, the Chiefs clearly have the most manageable schedule. Kansas City should be favored by double digits in their remaining matchups. The Bills and the Bengals have to face each other as well as other playoff contenders, so there could be some extra losses in there that could bring the Chiefs back to the bird dog seat in the AFC.
The Chiefs have the best quarterback and head coach combination in the league with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, so they certainly can make it happen. Now that they have taken some lumps and the talks of their demise are becoming louder, the Chiefs now have the motivation to bring the Lombardi back to KC.