Kansas City Chiefs (11-4, 8-7 ATS) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-6, 8-7), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Chiefs Stats and Trends
Kansas City can lock up the AFC bye as early as this week with a victory over the Bengals and a Titans loss to the Dolphins.
The Chiefs have won eight straight games outright and they’ve covered six straight games ATS.
Kansas City has scored 34+ points and it’s played over the total in three straight games.
Patrick Mahomes has thrown for multiple scores and he’s reached 20+ FP in three straight games after failing to hit those marks in 5-of-6 games in Weeks 7-13. He finished with 258/3 passing on just 30 attempts (8.6 YPA) despite playing without Travis Kelce. Josh Johnson posted 304/2 passing in this matchup last week, and the Bengals are giving up the fourth-most passing yards per game (270.1) to QBs this season.
Travis Kelce landed on the COVID list last week and he failed to get a negative test before Kansas City’s showdown with the Steelers. If you were lucky enough to survive in Week 16 without Kelce, he’ll likely return to the lineup this week in a pivotal matchup with the Bengals. Kelce erupted for 10/191/2 receiving on 13 targets the last time he played against the Chargers in Week 15, and Mark Andrews just posted 8/125/1 receiving against the Bengals last week. In fact, Cincinnati has given up 19+ FP to TEs in three straight games so this is a great spot if Kelce is able to return this week.
Tyreek Hill landed on the COVID list last week and he didn’t gain clearance to play until the weekend. He looked off with just 2/19 receiving on two targets while playing a season-low 42% of the snaps with the Chiefs winning easily over the Steelers. He had 12/148/1 receiving in his previous game in Week 15 and he’ll look to get back into form this week against the Bengals. They held Marquise Brown in check with 5/44 receiving on nine targets last week.
Byron Pringle busted out for a big game with Hill struggling last week, posting 6/75/2 receiving on seven targets against the Steelers. He’s been running as the #2 WR since Week 10 and he saw a season-high 80% of the snaps last week. Pringle’s role should be reduced this week with Kelce back and Hill another week removed from his illness. Rashod Bateman finished with 4/26/1 receiving in this matchup last week.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire left Week 16 in the third quarter with a collarbone injury, but luckily the X-rays on his collarbone came back negative. It’s yet to be seen if CEH will miss more action after he posted 10/31/1 scrimmage before leaving with the injury in the third quarter against the Steelers. Darrel Williams finished the game with 11/55 rushing and he caught all three of his targets for 30 yards on a 42% snap share, while Derrick Gore added 12/43 rushing and 3/61 receiving on a 28% snap share in the victory. Darrel averaged 19.2/94.0 scrimmage yards per game with three TDs in five games without CEH earlier this season in Weeks 6-10. The Bengals are giving up the fourth-most catches per game (6.7) but the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game (73.2) to RBs this season.
Brolley’s Bengals Stats and Trends
The Bengals are 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games.
Cincinnati is 4-1 toward overs in its last five home games.
Joe Burrow broke Boomer Esiason’s franchise record for passing yards in a game (490, 1990) with 525 yards against the Ravens. His performance against the Ravens ranks him fourth in NFL history behind only Warren Moon (527, 1990), Matt Schaub (527, 2012), and Norm Van Brocklin (554, 1951) for passing yards in a game. Burrow absolutely shredded a depleted Ravens’ secondary by averaging 11.4 YPA with four touchdowns and no INTs. The Chiefs have limited their opponents to 10 or fewer points in four of their last five games, and Justin Herbert (24.0 FP) is the only quarterback to post more than 14 FP in that span.
Tee Higgins is coming off his own career game with 12/194/2 receiving on 13 targets for 43.4 FP against the Ravens, which gives him 16+ FP in four of his last five contests. He’s also posted 4+ catches, 60+ yards, and 13+ FP in seven of his last nine games. The Chiefs are giving up the 11th-fewest FPG (33.6) to WRs this season, but they have allowed 16+ FP to an individual WR in three straight games.
Ja’Marr Chase saw double-digit targets last week for the first time since Week 9, and it helped him to post 7/125 receiving against the Ravens. He has a pair of 19+ FP performances in the last three weeks sandwiched around a game with just a three-yard catch in Week 15. Diontae Johnson managed 6/51/1 receiving on nine targets in this matchup last week.
Tyler Boyd is finishing the year strong after a sluggish five-game stretch in Weeks 5-9. He posted double-digit FP in five of his last six games, including 55+ receiving yards in four straight games after posting 3/85/1 receiving on five targets against the Ravens in Week 16. Keenan Allen (6/78/1 receiving) and Hunter Renfrow (13/117/1) have recently gone off in this matchup.
Joe Mixon is coming off his second-best fantasy performance of the season with 31.5 FP thanks to a career-best fantasy receiving performance day (6/70/1 receiving). We can’t always count on the receiving production from Mixon, but he’s at least seen 17+ carries in six straight games since their Week 10 bye. Najee Harris finished with 19/93 rushing and 5/17 receiving in this matchup last week, and the Chiefs are giving up a healthy 4.5 YPC to RBs this season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.9 (25th)
Plays per game: 64.4 (11th)
Pass: 60.2% (16th) | Run: 39.8% (17th)
Pace: 28.6 (28th)
Plays per game: 66.0 (6th)
Pass: 60.1% (17th) | Run: 39.9% (16th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
Fresh off eviscerating the Ravens, Joe Burrow and the Bengals are in a very interesting spot this week. I wrote about this in last week’s Game Hub, but the Bengals were overly conservative offensively coming into their game against Baltimore. They ended up really opening up their passing game against the Ravens banged up secondary as Burrow dropped back to pass on 69% of their early-down plays, which was a near 20% boost in pass rate from their two previous games where their early-down pass rate was a lowly 51%.
However, this Chiefs defense is playing much better as of late and have held six of their last 7 opponents to 14 or fewer points with the lone exception being the Chargers (28 points). Justin Herbert didn’t exactly light them up, though, and the Chargers took a very balanced game plan as they called 39 passes and 39 runs in that game. The Bengals can play both ways (run or pass-heavy) effectively, but as 5-point underdogs, I think this sets up as a slightly more pass-heavy spot for them. Burrow is averaging 35.8 attempts per game in losses and just 29.3 attempts per game in wins this year.
After a mid-season lull, the Chiefs are rolling offensively as of late and lead the NFL in scoring rate as 51.4% of their possessions have ended in a FG or TD over the last eight weeks. Combined with a defense that is limiting their opponents to a score on just 22.2% of drives (second-lowest rate) – that is a damn good recipe. The Chiefs are going to do what they do on offense here: Throw the ball at will against a sliding Bengals secondary that has allowed 295 or more yards and 2 or more passing TDs in three of their last 4 games.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
It took some time for the offensive framework to mesh with the addition of another elite receiving threat in Ja’Marr Chase, but it couldn’t be coming together at a better time. Chase has put together a historic rookie campaign, Tee Higgins has been one of the hottest wideouts in the game over the last five weeks, and Joe Burrow has found plenty of volume left over for Tyler Boyd to average 80.3 receiving YPG, and 15.5 FPG the last four weeks.
In this matchup. He’ll mostly work across from L’Jarius Sneed in the slot. Among 39 qualified nickelbacks, Sneed is permitting 1.39 YPCS (fifth-most), 0.33 FP/CS (third-most), and a 101.9 TPR (15th-most). It’s no wonder that Sneed is being targeted at the seventh-highest rate since he’s permitting the highest rate of 20-plus completions.
Byron Pringle is somewhat interesting after his 6/75/2 and 25.5 FP performance last week against the Steelers. But he will also face a considerable challenge from Eli Apple during his career revival season. Apple is holding his responsibilities to 0.73 YPCS (seventh-fewest), 0.15 FP/CS (fourth-fewest), 0.09 AY/CS (sixth-fewest), and a 76.0 TPR (18th-lowest).
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Chiefs got Tyreek Hill back from the COVID-19 list last week, and are getting TE Travis Kelce off the list this week. Both are obvious starts, but it’s important to note Tyreek wasn’t 100% last week.
Arrowheadlines: Tyreek Hill was ‘exhausted’ in his return from Covid https://t.co/X2ZJE2maMU— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) December 30, 2021
Patrick Mahomes should have a healthy Tyreek Hill and also Travis Kelce, who returned to practice yesterday, Sunday in a monster matchup vs the #bengals. Here’s where things stand with both players in terms of COVID. My report on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/YZ6jyNXPGc— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) December 30, 2021
Kelce has had more time to come off the list, and you’re obviously not sitting him anyway, but it’s just something to keep in mind mentally that even if the players recover from the virus, it could take time for them to get back to normal. (Hill expects to be 100% this week, by the way.)
One guy the Chiefs won’t have this week is RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who avoided serious injury with a collarbone scare last week but should still miss some time. That will open the door for RBs Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore to make an impact. Here’s Scott Barrett from Start/Sit on Darrel:
“If Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) sits out, Williams should be started as a high-end RB2. If he plays, you can drop Williams back down to the high-end RB3-range.
When Edwards-Helaire last missed time (Weeks 6-10), Williams played on 64% of the snaps, handling 72% of the carries, 63% of the targets, 85% of the opportunities inside the 10-yard-line, and 67% of the XFP out of the backfield. (Jerick McKinnon who handled 6% of the carries and 33% of the targets over this span has been designated to return from I.R.).
Over this stretch, Williams averaged 14.2 carries, 5.4 targets, 94.0 YFS, 17.5 XFP/G, and 18.0 FPG. If over the full season, those numbers would rank 16th-, 7th-, 10th-, 10th-, and 8th-best.
Kansas City is favored by 5.0-points against a Cincinnati defense that ranks 10th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+1.4).”
Gore is a desperation FLEX if you need one, but because of his role in the passing game, I much prefer Darrel, as Scott points out.
The Bengals dissected a decimated Raven secondary last week, and they’re about to face a much stiffer challenge from the Chiefs’ improving defense this week. But that’s not going to stop Joe Burrow from being an extremely popular option this week.
Here’s Jake Tribbey from DFS Early Look:
“Southern Ohio legend Joe Burrow is coming off the 3rd-best game by a fantasy QB this season (38.1 fantasy points), and is only the 3rd QB in NFL history to throw for more 525 yards and 4 TDs in a single game.
Burrow is currently PFF’s highest-graded QB (90.7 passing grade), and boasts the 2nd-highest passer rating in the NFL (105.0). He’s certainly started to return to 2019-Burrow form after starting slow in the first 3 weeks of the season, averaging 20.2 FPG over the last 12 weeks – a mark that would be good for QB10 on the season.
One of the most important factors to Burrow’s fantasy success has been passing volume. He averages 21.5 FPG in the 9 games he’s thrown more than 30 passes, but just 16.7 FPG in his other 6 games. On the Week 17 main slate, that’s the difference between ranking just after Patrick Mahomes for QB7, and just barely ahead of Russell Wilson for QB12.
But thankfully for Burrow, he faces Kansas City in a Week 17 matchup that’s the 2nd-highest total on the slate (50.0). And with the Bengals as 4.5-point underdogs to the NFL’s most explosive offense, it’s fair to say passing volume won’t be an issue for Burrow. Plus KC has been a favorable matchup for opposing QBs, allowing 19.9 FPG (3rd-most) this season.”
The full-season stats are quite a bit misleading for KC’s defense this year, since they’ve been so good lately, but the Bengal studs who have been carrying you — Burrow, Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, and Joe Mixon — have to be in your lineup in a game projected to be this high-scoring.
The one guy you might be making a decision on is the inconsistent Tyler Boyd, but he’s someone who’s come on of late. Over his last four games, Boyd is the overall WR9, after ranking as the WR42 over the first 12 weeks of the season. He’s done it in ways that aren’t common to him — i.e. scoring long TDs, like last week against Baltimore — but the Chiefs’ biggest vulnerability is in the slot by the numbers, where Hunter Renfrow and Keenan Allen have had big games recently. Boyd is a very strong WR3.