Cincinnati Bengals who need to step up vs. Chiefs
2. Jessie Bates
Cincinnati’s defensive performance will likely be the deciding factor in this game. When Patrick Mahomes and his weapons are humming, they can outscore any offense. For this reason, the stripes must have a solid defensive game.
This could all start with the safety Jessie Bates.
The fourth-year Bengal has not had a great year in an important contract season. Against the pass, Bates has seen a harsh dropoff. However, he can flip that around this weekend against Kansas City’s lethal passing attack.
Bates’ improvement will be even more important with the thin linebacker group. Germaine Pratt has played great in Logan Wilson’s absence but has been placed on the COVID list. In addition, Wilson could be out again with his shoulder injury. The Wake Forest alum has to provide exceptional run support with many linebackers missing.
Plus, safety play is always important vs. the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill often puts defenses in a bind with his big play ability. To this day, no corner has been able to completely erase the threat of Hill in man coverage. Even though Chidobe Awuzie has been great, he will need safety help at times (this is where Bates comes in).
Also, Travis Kelce will likely return this week, and the Bengals have had their struggles against tight ends this season. Bates could draw some matchups with Kelce, arguably the league’s best tight end.
Bates will be given an opportunity to impact the Bengals vs. Chiefs game in several ways, he must capitalize on it.