CIN playing KC has become a rivalry. CIN is 3-0 but has had to come from behind in every one of those games to win. We have superstar QBs, injuries, and flip-flop lines. I have a clear picture of all this offense, all these playmakers.
I don’t think this goes as scripted. These two teams will make long drives with multiple plays (even out of short fields), reducing the clock. Thus I think scoring will not get out of control. Another key here is CIN on defense, especially in the 2nd half. They are the #1 EPA defense in the 2nd half of the NFL! They make tremendous adjustments. Another factor is why I think there will be less scoring than what is thought to be. The total has not flipped like the game spread. It opened at 49, then an adjustment for Mahomes injury, falling to 48.
Let’s look at this too. CIN has better playmakers, a better QB (Mahomes hobbled), a better DL vs. the run, better defense vs. the pass, and better special teams. KC has the better OL and coaching staff. I believe CIN is the better team. According to the Pythagorean wins standings, KC is worse than their actual record, and CIN is better than theirs. Now add that CIN played the 4th most difficult schedule and KC only the 29th! CIN is tested!
In the previous matchups, Joe Burrow has a passer rating of 121.0. He averaged 36 attempts with 26 completions for 327.3 yards. He had 8 TDs and 1 INT! He was sacked 6 times (2 per game avg). Joe Burrow is 23-3 (including the win vs. BUF last week) when he gets sacked 3 or fewer times! He is 4-8 when he gets sacked four or more times. BUF rushes the passer better than KC, and CIN did not have trouble in the snow against them, even with backup linemen in the game. Burrow was 7-8 with 1TD against the blitz vs. KC in week 13. KC will need to find a way to pressure without blitzing. I expect a similar game from them against KC. This bodes well for CIN.
Patrick Mahomes led the league with 183 designed rollouts and scramble-type passes. His passing grade was 2nd best in the league. When he was injured last week, he returned and threw 20 passes. Only 1 was considered a scramble or rollout. I believe he will be more active but not healthy. He will be more limited. A Patrick Mahomes at 70% is better than most teams’ starting QB. I expect KC to run more, thus taking some pressure off Mahomes.
Another factor is the red zone. KC offense is #6, and CIN is #8 (no edge). BUT CIN is #5 in red zone defense, whereas KC is #26! No question it is a big edge for CIN.
I think CIN is the better team. They are tested and riding a winning streak of 10 straight games; they have the better QB and a solid defense. I played CIN +1.5, and CIN +109, and Under 48.