The Chiefs looked like the AFC’s best team on Sunday night, destroying the Bengals, 45-10. Both teams came into the game atop their respective divisions, and both teams would fall out of first place with a loss. Kansas City made sure the outcome was never in question, jumping out to a 14-0 lead, and stretching it to 24-7 at halftime before cruising through the final 30 minutes.
The Chiefs now head into Week 8 in first place in the AFC West, a game up on the upstart Chargers, who are 5-2 after beating the Titans in London on Sunday morning. But they’re also the best team in the conference. And given how well this team plays at home, maintaining homefield advantage could be the difference between getting to the Super Bowl and having to go to Gillette Stadium and try to win in January.
For as good as Kansas City’s offense has been all season, they’re all but unstoppable at Arrowhead. Second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes was clinical, and for the sixth consecutive game he’s thrown for at least 300 yards. It started on the very first drive, when he drew the defender in before finding Kareem Hunt for an easy touchdown:
Two drives later, more Mahomes-to-Hunt action:
And one drive after that, Mahomes touchdown pass No. 3:
Mercifully, halftime gave the Bengals a respite, though only temporarily. Because Kansas City got the ball to start the third quarter, and seven plays and 75 yards later, they ended up exactly where you’d expect them: the end zone, courtesy of a two-yard run from Hunt. Mahomes threw another touchdown in the fourth quarter, giving the Chiefs at least 40 points in a game for the third time this season. (They’ve scored exactly 127 points in those three games. For an idea how amazing that is, the Cardinals have scored 92 points in seven games this season.)
We’ll repeat what we said above: If the Chiefs are the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs, it’s hard to imagine they’re not headed to Atlanta. Yes, the Patriots were able to slow them up in Foxborough — where “slow them up” means they gave up 40 points. But it’s hard to imagine any team coming into Kansas City and simultaneously containing Mahomes, Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Spencer Ware and Sammy Watkins. And don’t forget, for as suspect as this defense has been, Justin Houston and Eric Berry are still working through injuries.
We’ll just leave you with this:
Not-so-Primetime Dalton continues
Heading into Sunday night, the Bengals had won four straight against the Chiefs, dating back to 2008. In fact, Andy Dalton, who arrived in Cincinnati in 2011, has won both his games against Kansas City. It will probably come as no surprise to you that both those victories were day games.
In case that does surprise you, know this: Dalton is historically bad when the lights are brightest. After losing to the Chiefs, Dalton’s record in games that start after 7 p.m. is now 6-15.
These words encapsulates Dalton’s night in a nutshell:
And these images do an even better job. With the Chiefs leading 31-7 early in the third quarter, Dalton did this:
When it was over, Dalton was 15 of 29 for 148 yards with a touchdown and a pick. And while he’ll get the brunt of the criticism — along with unfairly judging him by wins and losses — the reality is that the Bengals’ defense was exposed all night long by Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
And here’s something that isn’t getting nearly enough attention: For as bad as the Chiefs’ defense has been this season, they’re not that much worse than the Bengals’ unit. Coming into Week 7, Kansas City’s defense ranked 28th, according to Football Outsiders. The Bengals? They ranked 24th. The difference is that over the final nine games of the season, Cincy’s offense can’t score at will like Kansas City’s can.
Andy Reid’s coaching tree is pretty impressive
We like to talk about Bill Belichick’s Hall of Fame record, as well the former assistants he’s sent to NFL jobs. Turns out, we can kindly describe that crew as replacement level.
Charlie Weiss: 41-49 (college)
Romeo Crennel: 28-55
Eric Mangini: 33-47
Josh McDaniels: 11-17
Bill O’Brien: 34-36
Matt Patricia: 2-3
Vontaze Burfict has taken to flopping
The Bengals’ mercurial linebacker is often considered the league’s dirtiest player and since 2013 has been fined more than $415,000 for on-field infractions — including $112,000 for among other things a headshot to Antonio Brown last week. But on Sunday night, he seemed more interested in trying to draw flags against the Chiefs by flopping all over the field.
In the first quarter we were treated to this:
Burfict eventually left the game in the second half with an injury. He finished with two tackles.
Steelers should ask for more bye weeks
Pittsburgh headed into its bye on a two-game winning streak, including a last-second win over the Bengals in Week 6. And after spending Sunday on the couch, the Steelers have gone from third in the AFC North to the top spot; the Ravens lost at home to the Saints to fall to 4-3, and we know what the Chiefs did to the Bengals to drop them to 4-3, too. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is 3-2-1 and is No. 1 in the division by .012 percentage points, .583 to .571.
If there’s a silver lining, here it is: The Steelers have the fifth-toughest schedule over the rest of the season, according to Football Outsiders, while the Bengals’ schedule is ninth-toughest. But first things first: Cincinnati needs to get right. After winning four of five to start the season, it’s now on a two-game losing streak.
The Bengals (4-3) will host the Buccaneers (3-3), who eked out an overtime win over the Browns on Sunday. The Chiefs, meanwhile, will host Broncos in a rematch of a Week 4 game that saw Mahomes struggle early before finishing 28 of 45 for 304 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers as Kansas City scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to win, 27-23.
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