Bengals vs Chiefs: Alex Smith or Patrick Mahomes in Week 2?

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Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Week 2 of the NFL preseason will feature the Bengals against the Kansas City Chiefs. We asked Matt Conner of Arrowhead Addict to share his thoughts.

The Bengals are preparing for an outright battle with the Kansas City Chiefs. Saturday evening’s contest will be a test for a slightly banged up Cincinnati secondary. Alex Smith has been looking good in camp and rookie sensation Patrick Mahomes has been shining just as brightly. The Chiefs were a surprise AFC West champion, after starting the 2016 campaign at 2-2. They caught fire (10-2) and demanded a first-week bye in the postseason. Unfortunately, their run at greatness was stopped by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Both teams are looking forward to making an appearance in the playoffs, after receiving positive draft grades. The game will showcase the Chiefs defense against the likes of Joe Mixon and hopefully the speedster John Ross. But, offseason shoulder surgery could derail any real action until the opener against Baltimore.

To get a feel for what the Bengals could be facing on Saturday, we asked Arrowhead Addict expert Matt Conner to give us the skinny on what’s happening with the Chiefs.

How good is Alex Smith this year? Is there any chance of Patrick Mahomes easing his way into the starting position?

The only chance Patrick Mahomes has of becoming the Chiefs starting quarterback is if Smith was injured seriously. At that point, I think the Chiefs’ coaching staff would accelerate the timeline, but they’ve been pretty clear about the pecking order and being vocal in their confidence in Alex Smith—with team owner Clark Hunt even saying Smith is the starter in 2017. The comprehensive plan has been laid out and they’ve stuck to it line by line so far. I don’t see that changing.

There’s usually a tense feeling when the backup QB looks comfortable. But, Alex looked just as good in Week 1 action. Does that take the quarterback controversy out of the question?

Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals /

Cincinnati Bengals

The Chiefs had a strong plan in place to make this quarterback transition as painless as possible. They’ve been overly supportive of Smith all through the offseason even as they’re obviously in love with their shiny new toy. Andy Reid runs a very professional ship, so it’s interesting that this hasn’t become a thing.

Before the Chiefs came together at training camp, the team had shocked everyone by firing their general manager. They’d released Jeremy Maclin out of the blue and let Jamaal Charles walk without even offering him a restructured deal. Tamba Hali called out the coaching staff on Twitter for a lack of playing time and they had put the pieces into place for a good ole quarterback controversy. Yet once everyone arrived it was completely business as usual with every player suddenly becoming a team-first choirboy again without any hint of division or concern.

It’s always hard to judge players during the preseason. But, are there any rookies or hyped vets the Bengals should be aware of Saturday night?

Chiefs fans will certainly be watching C.J. Spiller very closely on Saturday to see if he can continue to thwart critics and make the final 53-man roster. By all accounts, Spiller looks like his old self, which could provide the Chiefs with an extra, unexpected weapon on offense. Then, of course, there’s also Tyreek Hill with the first-team offense. Bengals fans should watch him to see what the real fastest player in the NFL looks like.

On defense, it will be interesting to watch the maturation of Tanoh Kpassagnon. The Chiefs selected the Villanova defensive lineman in the second round this year as a total project. He’s an athletic freak who is long and strong but is making the jump from FCS competition to the NFL. Sometimes he looks a bit lost on the field while other times you’d think you’re watching Jason Pierre-Paul. It will be interesting to see if he’s made any marked improvements since his first preseason game.

The 2016 season was a Cinderella ride for Kansas City. Should Chiefs fans expect the same thrilling type of scenario for the upcoming campaign?

Yes, there’s every reason to expect the Chiefs to maintain this level of success for quite some time. They swept the AFC West last year, a division most NFL analysts would consider to be the toughest in the NFL.

Next: Bengals Dream Team?

They return most players from that same team and added a few important pieces. This year’s draft was all about the long-term future (Patrick Mahomes, Kpassagnon) but their short-term outlook remains just as bright as ever. This is a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

Saturday night looks to be a battle of Minneapolis hopefuls. There should be plenty of offensive fireworks to decide the best AFC representative.

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