NFL 2018 Season - Week 14
 

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Perfect End
by Dennis Ranahan

The Kansas City Chiefs have been the talk of the football world this season with second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes setting passing touchdown records and leading his team to five wins to open the 2018 season. Last week, the Chiefs suffered their first setback of the year, a hardfought three point loss at Foxboro against Tom Brady and his AFC Champion New England Patriots.

This week, they host the Cincinnati Bengals, in a game that NBC found attractive enough that they flexed out of their scheduled contest between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams to televise the Bengals/Chiefs matchup at Arrowhead Stadium in primetime. It is a battle between a pair of division leaders. The Bengals, despite absorbing a stinging loss last Sunday against their AFC North Division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, still have a half-game lead over Pittsburgh and are tied with the leading defensive team in the league, the Baltimore Ravens.

The Chiefs first place in the AFC West began with a road win over the Los Angeles Chargers, but following Los Angeles’ early morning win in London today, if the Chiefs stumble against the Bengals, they will fall into a first place tie with the Chargers. Both teams would finish the first seven weeks of regular season play with 5-2 won/loss marks.

In other words, NBC has chosen a game that means a lot to both teams.

The success of the Chiefs this season has been the product of Mahomes sterling play from the quarterback position. He opened the season with the win over the Chargers in Los Angeles, and followed that victory with an impressive performance in outscoring the Steelers in Pittsburgh, 42-37. Following a home win over San Francisco, and a road Monday night victory against division rival Denver, the Chiefs dominated the highly regarded Jacksonville Jaguars.

Those five wins had Kansas City perched atop the AFC West and had them as the only undefeated team in their conference. After five weeks, the only other undefeated team in the league was the NFC West leading Los Angeles Rams. The Chiefs had one edge over Los Angeles after five games, the Rams were 3-1-1 versus the spread and the Chiefs were 5-0.

In fact, despite suffering their first loss last Sunday night in Foxboro, the Chiefs also moved their point spread record to 6-0. They lost by three points, 43-40, but got 3½ points on the spread.

Tonight, the Chiefs bring their perfect point spread record into action against a Bengals team smarting off their last minute loss last week to the Steelers.

While the Chiefs have been outstanding on offense behind Mahomes, their defense has not been at championship level. And, while head coach Andy Reid has guided the Chiefs to quick starts in the past, he has never maintained excellence throughout the regular season and into the playoffs. In fact, last season, the Chiefs were one of only a few teams in NFL history to open with five wins and miss gaining a playoff berth.

While the Chiefs have not lost a point spread decision this season, tonight appears a near certain spot for them to get clipped by the number and almost as likely to suffer their first loss of the season.

Qoxhi Picks: Cincinnati Bengals (+6) over Kansas City Chiefs