KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs return home after a strong learning experience in New England.
Patrick Mahomes got the opportunity to play in a prime time game against one of the most decorated quarterback of this era in Tom Brady. The Patriots quarterback took the short passes until he found his rhythm.
Mahomes went for the home run throws while he was still finding his footing. Some in NFL circles believe it was a preview of the AFC Championship.
Kansas City will now need to take the lessons learned and apply them to their second consecutive Sunday night matchup. Cincinnati has a potent offense but it is based on certain cylinders clicking at the right time.
Here are the keys to the Chiefs sixth victory.
Two cuts or more
Giovanni Bernard’s Injury is a huge loss for the Bengals offense. He is arguably one of the most explosive players on the team. Bernard would have been a matchup nightmare for the Chiefs safeties and linebackers. Joe Mixon will see an increased workload. He doesn’t appear to be in peak conditioning.
Mixon could potentially wear down quicker than normal. He is at his best with one cut and go in the run game. He loses speed when running horizontally and allows for better pursuit angles. Mixon can hit his top end speed if he has one cut and gets vertical quickly. Mark Walton will likely see some snaps as well but he is a slower back that if he has two cuts or more the run will likely be a loss.
Contain and collapse
Andy Dalton is shockingly very effective and accurate outside of the pocket. He struggles when he is kept in the pocket and the guards collapse in on him. Dalton wants to quickly get the ball out to his checkdown which is typically the running back in the flats. The guards struggle with twist, loops and delayed blitzes through the A gap. Dalton appears to overthrow the ball if he has to hop forward twice.
AJ Green is the biggest threat in the Bengals offense. He knows how to find the voids in a defense and break off routes if needed. Tyler Boyd has benefited from teams' desires to take Green away but he lacks the threat that Green does deep. John Ross is also a vertical threat but his injuries have hampered some of his explosion. Green is what makes the passing game tick but it will be at the sacrifice of paper cuts by Boyd and tight end CJ Uzomah.
Attack the slow linebackers
The Bengals speed at linebacker is lacking at best. They struggle to contain the edge. The defense is over aggressive because of the two previous factors mentioned and give up massive cutback lanes. Teams have been able to run traps, counters, pitches, tosses, stretches, sweeps and reverses at will with misdirection involved. Opponents have used it to sprinkle in bootlegs and play-action passes but try to maintain pace in the scoring department.
Attack Dre Kirkpatrick deep
The Bengals corner is one of the weak links in their secondary. He doesn’t have the speed to stay with Tyreek Hill or Sammy Watkins on vertical routes, deep crossing routes, deep post or double moves. Receivers have been able to exploit those routes because of his lack in recovery speed.
Set the tempo on special teams
The Bengals don’t have the most effective special teams. They have had some field goals blocked, a punt blocked and struggle in keep contain on punt returns. Dave Toub’s squad has the chance to be a game changer.
Sunday nights game is another big one in the Chiefs adding another tiebreaker to secure home field advantage in the playoffs. It would be helpful in head to head and overall conference record. A win would put the Bengals four games behind the Chiefs with three losses and a head to head tiebreaker.
Each AFC conference win can force the road to the Super Bowl to run through Arrowhead. The next step can be seen right here on 41 Action News with pregame starting at 5 p.m. CT.