Kansas City Chiefs
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Chiefs excel at getting quick starts
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis knows all about the importance of starting a game fast with an early lead, but even he marvels at the what the Chiefs and head coach Andy Reid have done offensively under quarterback Patrick Mahomes so far this season.
"We should be allowed to play with 12, a special rule for this week," Lewis said with a laugh. "They do a great job of making you defend the entire field. You get misdirection, motion shifts, personnel changes, all the things they do and make you respond to them and they do them with great athleticism and speed."
The Bengals visit Arrowhead Stadium for a Sunday night football matchup against the Chiefs, but don't be surprised if a Sunday night track meet breaks out instead. Both offenses thrive on jumping on opponents early and holding on the rest of the way to win games. On the defensive side, the Chiefs enter the game with the 32nd-ranked defense in yards allowed per game; the Bengals don't fare much better, holding on at No. 29.
The Chiefs and Bengals, however, hold down the top two spots in the league in first-quarter scoring margin. Kansas City leads the league with 65 first-quarter opponents, outscoring their opponents 65-19. The Bengals rank third with 45 first-quarter points. They lead their opposition in the first frame 45-17.
Kansas City's offensive success early in the season stemmed from the simple philosophy of putting the ball into the end zone. The team scored 16 touchdowns through its first three games with just four field goals from kicker Harrison Butker. But the offense slowed its pace with just 10 touchdowns in the last three games, settling for nine field goals, including four in Week 6 against New England.
"We have stalled at getting it in the end zone," Reid said. "I take responsibility for that. We want to score touchdowns. I love Butker, but I would rather score a touchdown. I feel also fortunate that if things do stall, we have someone who is a good kicker."
Last Sunday night against the Patriots the Chiefs found themselves trailing 10-6 after the first quarter en route to a 43-40 loss. Mahomes seemed to come into the prime-time game a bit amped up, missing a few throws early that appeared open for chunks of yards.
"How you start the game is important against a good football team," Reid said. "How you handle all of that is important. I thought he did a great job as the game went on. Just another opportunity for something that was in the eyes of a young player. That's a big game there, and I thought he handled it well as the game went on."
The Bengals pass defense struggle at times, reflected by their No. 28 ranking with 292 passing yards allowed per game. But they feature a talented defensive line, led by defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Carol Dunlap, who have combined for 10 sacks on the season.
"Both him and Dunlap I feel like have been there forever," Reid said. "Those guys I feel like have played for a lot of years at a very high level and they are still doing it. We are going to have to play well and do a nice job up front. They present some talent."
SERIES HISTORY: 29th regular-season meeting. Bengals lead series, 15-13. Cincinnati owns four straight wins in the series, and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has never beaten Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis in four tries. That head-to-head battle includes a 13-13 tie between Cincinnati and Philadelphia in 2008. The Bengals won the last matchup between the two clubs in 2015, a 36-21 contest during which kicker Cairo Santos set a Chiefs franchise record with seven field goals, accounting for all of the team's scoring.