NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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No Surprise
by Dennis Ranahan

The Kansas City Chiefs fell from the perfect ranks last week, losing their first game of the season at Gillette Stadium to the talented New England Patriots, 33-30. But, while the Chiefs lost their first game of the year, leaving only the Los Angeles Rams without a loss through six weeks, they did pick up their sixth straight point spread win. Kansas City was a 3½ point underdog in New England and played their previous five games as an underdog twice and covered their three favorite roles.

This week, the Chiefs are visited by the Cincinnati Bengals, who had their stranglehold over their longtime nemesis, the Pittsburgh Steelers, snapped in the final seconds last week by virtue of a 31-yard winning touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown. The final seconds play lifted the Steelers to a 28-21 win after they converted a two point conversion, and sent the Bengals to Kansas City licking their wounds.

You know what the Bengals are thinking, that if only they would have held on against Pittsburgh they would have been alone in first place in their division and have the Steelers two games under .500. But, like so often before to this Bengals team, the brass ring slipped their grasp and they move into seventh week action tied with the Baltimore Ravens in the NFC North and only a game ahead of the perennial talented Steelers.

Both the Chiefs and Bengals are division leaders and both lost last week. Does one of those losses favor one team over the other?

Yes.

The Chiefs loss in New England was more often complimented for Kansas City’s comeback and grit from a 15 point halftime deficit to narrowing the final margin to a field goal. Beware of teams that get credit for close wins or moral victories.

The fact that the Chiefs got off to a quick start under Andy Reid should come as no surprise, he has done this before. But, expecting the Chiefs to continue their dominance of the league is to determine that a top flight defense is no longer essential to a winning team.

A squad, not unlike the 1980 San Diego Chargers, that can simply outscore their opponents have that success for as long as that works. But, when push comes to shove deep into the playoffs, it is the team with the better defense that will rule the day.

While it shouldn’t be a shock that the Chiefs are off to a great start, it also follows long established patterns that now the Chiefs stumble. Even with Patrick Mahomes having an MVP type season, the Chiefs now find themselves on the wrong side of the value in the point spread and looking to defend a higher perch than their talent warrants.

The Bengals will bounce off their loss to the Steelers with an impressive win at Arrowhead Stadium. Cincinnati will be the second of many teams to record a point spread win against a vulnerable Chiefs squad

Qoxhi Picks: Cincinnati Bengals (+5½) over Kansas City Chiefs