Chiefs vs. Bengals Free NFL Picks for Week 17

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C.J. Uzomah #87 of the Cincinnati Bengals. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals have plenty to play for when the two division leaders meet at Paul Brown Stadium in the second-to-last week of the regular season. The Chiefs have won eight straight after a 3-4 start and have a chance to finish as the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Kansas City wrapped up its sixth straight AFC West title with a blowout of the Steelers last week. The Bengals have won two straight to pull in front in the AFC North at 9-6. Which way to lean at the NFL odds available at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks?

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals 

Sunday, January 02, 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at Paul Brown Stadium

Thin Margin

With two weeks to go in the regular season, the Chiefs are the only team in the AFC to wrap up a playoff spot. While the other teams scramble to get into the party, Kansas City can focus on wrapping up home-field advantage until the Super Bowl.

It won’t be easy, even with the head start. While the Chiefs are currently the top seed, one loss will open the door for the Titans to take over as No. 1, and Tennessee has the tiebreaker advantage. Another loss and K.C. could fall as far as No. 4 in the AFC pecking order.

The Chiefs close with two road games, at Cincinnati and Denver. They’ll look for a focused performance as they got on Sunday when they jumped out to a 23-0 lead over Pittsburgh and cruised.

The Kansas City defense, longtime dwellers of the offense’s shadow, has stepped up during the late-season run. The Steelers scored just 10 points, becoming the fourth Kansas City opponent in the last five to score 10 or less, and the fifth in the last seven.

The Chiefs could be short-handed for the Cincinnati game. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire went down during the Pittsburgh game and didn’t return. Originally announced as a collarbone injury, the team said it was a shoulder problem after the game. X-rays were negative on Sunday, but he’ll have an MRI to determine how severe the injury is.

The team also lost DB Tyrann Mathieu to a quad injury late in the game. Kansas City will await word on that injury’s severity as well.

K.C. was playing short-handed against the Steelers, with three starters, including tight end Travis Kelce, on the COVID list. That was down from 13 players earlier in the week, so the team is hopeful that the outbreak is waning on the roster.

Firing Away on Offense

The Bengals blew out the Ravens on Sunday, 41-21, and have beaten Baltimore by a combined 82-38 in two games this season. Cincinnati upset the Ravens by continuing to throw deep late in the blowout, as Joe Burrow had a career day.

The second-year quarterback threw for 525 yards—a team record and most in the NFL this season. He threw for the fourth-highest yardage total in NFL history and added 4 touchdowns. A 52-yard bomb to Joe Mixon set the Bengals franchise record for him and sparked the bad feelings on the Ravens sideline.

Burrow is focused on the team’s position in the standings, not his big day passing.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Burrow said. “We knew we had a chance to be in this position in training camp. We knew the kind of team we had. You couldn’t ask for a better situation right now. We control our destiny. Win these next two games, and we’ve got the division locked.”

The only significant injury coming out of the Ravens win was defensive end Cameron Sample, who left early with a hamstring problem and didn’t return.

The Pick

The Chiefs' defense has looked much better in the second half of the season, but it will be tested against a Bengals team that is lighting things up. Late in the season, the matchup and stats can be overshadowed by the simple question of who needs a win more.

That’s likely the Bengals, who are racing to make the playoffs and hold on in the division, while Kansas City already celebrated on Sunday. That's why we will back up the Bengals for our NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Cincinnati +5 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Cincinnati +5 (-110)
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