We had an early clue that this was not necessarily going to be the Kansas City Chiefs year. Only three other defending Super Bowl Champions had lost the traditional home opener since the inception of the series in 2004. But the Chiefs became the fourth, losing a one point decision to the upstart Detroit Lions.
Still, by midseason, the Chiefs were in the hunt for the AFC top seed in the playoffs, and they were doing it with their defense. In terms of points allowed they were near the top defensively, while their offense had cooled to the middle of the league.
Then it happened.
Like someone who could hear their car was beginning to make funny noises but continued to drive, the thing conked out. The Chiefs defense didn’t get any better, but their spectacular quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, was seemingly throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns and the Chiefs dropped like an anvil off a rooftop. In their last eight games, Kansas City has lost five, including setbacks to the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and Las Vegas Raiders.
Their once pursuit of the top seed for the playoffs has now been replaced by the possibility that the Las Vegas Raiders could win the AFC West and the Chiefs move onto their off-season before the playoffs begin.
Seems improbable, but with two games left in the season the Raiders, who upset Kansas City on their home field on Christmas, are just two back in the standings with a chance to overtake the Chiefs if they win two and Andy Reid’s men continue their descent.
This week, the Chiefs entertain the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that beat them two years ago at Arrowhead Stadium to advance to Super Bowl LVI. In fact, the Bengals have beaten the Chiefs in three of their most recent four meetings, with only a Championship Game win by Kansas CIty last January interrupting a three game head-to-head winning streak for Zak Taylor’s squad.
Last week, the public was riding the Chiefs chances against the Raiders in big numbers, this week, not so much. Currently, the Bengals plus the touchdown on the point spread are collecting more than 62% of the action on this matchup.
The public has finally caught on that the Chiefs are not having their year … but, do you know what most often happens when the public bettors catch on? Routinely, things go the other way.
I don’t think Kansas City is going to represent the American Football Conference in Super Bowl LVIII, but I also don’t think they are going to close out their 2023 campaign on a three game losing streak or that the Raiders are going to win their last four games and claim the AFC West Division title.
The Bengals would be a real challenge for the Chiefs this week if Joe Burrow was healthy, but the Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback has been sidelined since an injury ended his season in mid-November. In his place, the Bengals turned to longtime NFL backup Jake Browning. He lost his first start on his home field to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Then, while a double-digit underdog, the Bengals took advantage of a banged up Jacksonville Jaguars squad and followed that victory with two more unexpected wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings.
It was after the Vikings game that the public decided the Bengals were good enough to win on the road as a favorite against a division opponent. Yep, just when they jumped on the Bengals they got crushed in Pittsburgh by the Steelers, 34-11.
Now the betting world has stayed on the Bengals thinking the Steelers loss was an anomaly, when actually, the anomalies were the wins after Browning’s first loss.
It doesn’t happen often, but this week we can have a bet-against Chiefs team at Arrowhead Stadium off a loss. Which, I suggest, is a very good thing.
Qoxhi Picks: Kansas City Chiefs (-7) over Cincinnati Bengals