Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Center Ted Karras returned to a full practice on Wednesday for the Bengals but both G Alex Cappa and OT Jonah Williams remained out.
- Patrick Mahomes got in a full practice on Wednesday after suffering a high ankle sprain in Saturday’s win over the Jaguars.
- Mecole Hardman returned to a limited session on Wednesday, his first practice reps since hitting injured reserve prior to Week 11.
- Head coach Andy Reid hinted at a potential return from running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who has been on injured reserve since Week 11.
- Expect a significant boost to the average number of offensive plays run from scrimmage in this one, with each team likeliest trying to outdo the other on offense to win.
How Cincinnati Will Try To Win ::
The last time the Bengals attempted more rushes than passes was the last time these two teams met, back in Week 13 of the regular season. They have completely transitioned the way they do business offensively to be a pass-leaning offensive unit capable of attacking multiple layers of an opponent’s defense through the air. That shift in offensive design has moved their offense to one that operates almost exclusively from 11-personnel through the utilization of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd at wide receiver, a timeshare at running back between Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, and a timeshare at tight end between Hayden Hurst (primary pass-catcher) and Mitchell Wilcox (primary blocker). Knowing their opponent this week includes an offense that can put up points in a hurry, I see it likely that the Bengals come out firing through the air to start the game, with the ultimate volume split left up to eventual game flow.
Samaje Perine has played a much larger role in this offense since Joe Mixon returned from two missed games ending in Week 14, playing snap rates ranging between 38% and 53% during that time. It goes without saying, but that has limited Mixon’s opportunities and production in the process, handling an average of 18.67 running back opportunities per game over the previous six weeks (compared to 22.33 per game prior to his injury) and only two of six games with more than 20 running back opportunities. And while the matchup yields a slightly above average 4.42 net-adjusted line yards metric, the Bengals have vastly underperformed their underlying metrics in the run game while the Chiefs have overperformed theirs on defense. That should leave eventual volume in the run game tied strictly to game flow, which also gives a very clear avenue to play either piece from this backfield.
As discussed throughout the second half of the season, Ja’Marr Chase has distanced himself from Tee Higgins as the unquestioned number one on this offense. I won’t regurgitate the numbers because they should be well-known at this point, suffice it to say Chase is making a case to be considered in the top overall wide receiver discussion across the entire league. Kansas City’s best bet at slowing down the electric wideout likely resides with L’Jarius Sneed in man coverage (considering the elevated rates of man coverage that Kansas City utilizes in their defensive scheme), but that should still present a winnable matchup for Chase here. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd should each maintain near every-down snap rates even with Higgins playing just 76% of the offensive snaps last week which can primarily be explained away due to the extreme positive game script against the Bills. The largely unheralded Hayden Hurst gives this offense a legitimate pass catching weapon over the middle of the field, one they had been without in their previous run to the Super Bowl last season. He has typically played somewhere in the 75-80% snap rate range in pass-heavy game plans and has taken a hit in favor of the blocking Mitchell Wilcox in more balanced game environments, leaving a very clear path for us to consider his services for DFS purposes (dependent on individual game flows that the roster hints at). Finally, the Bengals ranked third in the league in total targets directed at the running back position this season, which is notable considering the Chiefs faced the second most targets directed towards opposing backs this season. That is particularly interesting for the fantasy expectations for both Bengals running backs on a short slate.