#4 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #5 Cincinnati Bengals
QB – I have to give this one to the Bengals. Andy Dalton showed a lot of talent and poise as a rookie last year as he led the Bengals to the playoffs. He didn’t make a lot of mistakes and made good decisions. Matt Cassel, while being in the league longer has never really lived up to what he showed his one year playing in New England.
RB – The Chiefs have one of the best RB cores in the NFL. Jamaal Charles has elite speed and can take it to the house every play. Peyton Hillis is a bruising RB who can also catch really well out of the backfield. They are a great 1/2 punch. The Bengals dropped Cedric Benson this year and picked up The Law Firm BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He is a great short yardage back but he doesn’t have elite speed. Bernard Scott is a shifty back who has good speed, he just hasn’t shown much in his career.
WR – I think the Bengals have the best overall WR in A.J. Green but the Chiefs have the better all around WR group in Dwayne Bowe signs and plays. Between Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston, Cassel has all kinds of WR’s to throw too. As I said I think Green is the best WR in this game but after him the Bengals have some questions. The #2 WR is up for battle between Brandon Tate and Armon Binns. The slot WR battle is between Andrew Hawkins and Jordan Shipley. They do have 2 promising Rookies in Sanu and Marvin Jones, but rookie WR’s don’t often have huge impacts.
TE – Tony Moeaki was a promising young TE but that knee injury last year may slow him down some this year. He is a good TE but because of the injury I have to go with the Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham in this one. He is on his way to being an elite pass catching TE much in the mode of Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.
OL – I will also give this one to the Bengals. Andrew Whitworth is one of the elite LT’s in this league. Year after year he is solid. Andre Smith really showed what he could do last year and became a force in the run game. This O-line will really depend on the 2 new starting OG’s Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling. Branden Albert is a decent LT but they did get a big upgrade on that line when they picked up RT Eric Winston. They have a new starting C in Rodney Hudson. The line could really depend on his development.
On the offense I have the Bengals winning 3 and the Chiefs winning 2. Now lets move on to the defensive side of the ball. I really expect both of there teams to have top 10 and maybe top 5 defenses.
DL – This one the Bengals win going away. The Bengals have one of the top 2 D-lines in the league along with the Bills. Carlos Dunlap, when healthy, is one of the premier pass rushers in the league. Michael Johnson on the other side needs to improve with consistency but can still dominate opposing tackles. Domata Peko and Geno Atkins form a dominant tandem of DT’s. Atkins is one of the best DT’s at getting to the QB. They also have Pat Sims in the middle who is a great run stuffer and rookies Devon Still and Brandon Thompson. For the Chiefs Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey haven’t lived up to where they were drafted. They drafted workout phenom Dontari Poe in this draft, but many wonder if the light will ever actually click for him.
LB – I have to give this one to the Chiefs. They have one of the best LB’er cores in the league with the emergence of Justin Houston last year. Tamba Hali has always been a force along with Derrick Johnson. Jovan Belcher is also one of the more underrated ILB in the league. The Bengals LB core isn’t too bad either. Thomas Howard always seems to be around the ball and Manny Lawson can do a little bit of everything. If Rey Maualuga can step up and be a factor in the middle, this will be a good LB core.
Front 7 Overall – I have to give this to the Bengals but not by much. The Bengals front 4 is the difference to me. They are so deep and cause so much havoc in the run and passing games that I had to pick them.
DB – I’ll go with the Chiefs on this one. Brandon Flowers is one of the best CB’s in football. And even though they lost Brandon Carr on the outside they picked up a pretty good replacement in Stanford Routt. Kendrick Lewis is a decent player, but Eric Berry is an absolute playmaker. If he stays healthy this year he takes that unit from pretty good to great. The Bengals have Leon Hall, who is an underrated CB, but is coming off an injury. Nate Clements is scheduled to start opposite him, but the Bengals have a lot of depth at CB with Adam Jones, Terence Newman, Jason Allen and rookie Dre Kirkpatrick. Reggie Nelson is the starting FS and Taylor Mays is scheduled to start at SS.
On the defensive side of the ball the Chiefs won 2 and the Bengals won 1. If you use the front 7 overall then the Bengals won 1 and the Chiefs won 1. Now on to the special teams.
Now for the actual game. I see this one being a very close, back and forth game. I don’t see a ton of points being scored in this one either. I’ll give the slight edge to the Bengals in this one because of QB play. I’ll predict a 21-16 win for the Bengals.
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