Week 17 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
This is a game circled on everyone's calendars. The fifth edition of Joe Burrow vs. Patrick Mahomes, a heavyweight match. The first three went to Cincy, winning two of those in the regular season and one in the 2021 AFC Championship Game. However, the Chiefs have gotten the last laugh, winning in last year's Championship matchup and, to pour salt on the wound, going on to win the big game, something the Bengals (unfortunately) couldn't do when they advanced to Super Bowl 56.
All four matchups so far have been close, literally a field goal separating these two teams in each game, and if the Bengals can pick up from their slow start like they did last year, this game should be no exception.
Heading into the season, the Chiefs were favorites to win it all again and repeat as Super Bowl champions, though lately, the odds have shifted in favor of the 49ers (which is unsurprising, considering their hot start to the season).
It's not hard to see why either. They still have the cream of the crop behind center, the best tight end in the league for him to throw to, and they retained one of the best interior defensive linemen in Chris Jones after a short holdout that ended after their season opener loss to the Lions. They also have young pieces on that defense worth mentioning, like George Karlaftis and Trent McDuffie.
Despite all that, they do appear to have more holes and weaknesses than other contenders and than they had in previous years-- most notably the receiving core outside of Kelce-- but as long as they have Mahomes slinging the ball, they'll continue to be a tough matchup. The Bengals defense has fared well against him in their past matchups, though as of now, this Lou Anarumo-led unit doesn't seem as strong as it has been in the last two years.
Still, they have time to figure it out and work out whatever issues they can, especially before this game against Kansas City, as it isn't until the last day of the year.