Pre-Snap Read: Bengals vs. Chiefs

With the Broncos 23-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers 1/3 of the Chiefs playoff qualification scenario has fallen in place. Now the Chiefs merely lack an miracle outcome between the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers coupled with their own victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

If the possibility of making the playoffs weren't motivation enough for the Chiefs players to give maximum effort today's game will also mark Dick Vermeils final regular season game as the Chiefs head coach. Make no mistake, the players in that locker room adore their head coach and his last appearance on the sideline might very well spark the Chiefs most complete performance of the season.

Chiefs Offense vs. Bengals Defense

Chiefs Offensive Line vs. Bengals Front Seven
The Bengals front seven are a quick and tenacious group that attacks relentlessly. They utilize an effective zone blitz scheme that will do everything from rush three and drop eight to drop two and blitz nine.

Fortunately the Chiefs offensive line has been marvelous at picking up blitzes this season and they have repeatedly done so against teams much better than the Bengals. Should their success continue in today's game Trent Green will have numerous opportunities for big plays down the field.

The Bengals front seven will also have a difficult time stopping the Chiefs running game. Though the Bengals defensive linemen have great quickness they lack the bulk to stand up against Kansas City's power. This mismatch should result in one of the Chiefs best games on the ground this season.

Trent Green vs. Bengals Secondary
The Bengals have been the leagues most opportunistic defense with +25 turnovers and a great deal of that success has come from their linebackers and secondary. Greens saving grace however will the ability of his offensive line to negate the Bengals pass rush forcing the Bengals secondary keep perfect coverage.

With starting cornerback Deltha O'Neal likely out of the game with an injury Green will look to his side on a frequent basis to victimize O'Neal's replacement. Tony Gonzalez should also have some room for making plays underneath due to the aggressive nature of the Bengals linebackers.

Larry Johnson vs. Bengals linebackers
The Bengals tend to play their linebackers close to the line of scrimmage and frequently send their outside backers on "dogs" to the "C gap". This leaves some fairly large holes in the "B gaps" of their defense and should be an area the Chiefs will exploit. Johnson will have some big runs when the Chiefs start attacking those holes which could lead to Johnson's second 200 yard rushing game of the season.

Bottom Line:
The Chiefs offense will be able to score at will on the Bengals defense, now they can only hope that their own defense is able to hold up their end of the bargain.

Chiefs Defense vs. Bengals Offense

Jared Allen vs. Bengals Offensive Line
Jared Allen has had a strong sophomore campaign and he'll need one of his best performances of the season if plans on put any pressure on Palmer and Kitna. The Bengals offensive line is a highly underrated group and this is especially true when it comes to pass protection. If Allen and the rest of the Chiefs defensive line is unable to muster a decent pass rush it will spell real trouble for the Kansas City's secondary.

Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, and TJ Houshmandzadeh vs. Chiefs Secondary
Though quarterback Carson Palmer has been nursing a groin injury he is listed a probable and expected to start in today's game. What is not known however is how long Palmer will play and with their division title already in the bag backup Jon Kitna should take over the reigns by half time.

Outside of the Colts and Rams the Bengals have the best starting due of wide receivers with Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh. Cincinnati's dynamic duo has beaten every secondary they've faced this season and Chiefs secondary should not be any different. Kansas City's best shot of competing against these two terrors is playing a deep cover two zone and leave all of the run support up to the front seven.

Rudy Johnson and Reggie Kelly versus Kawika Mitchell and Derrick Johnson
Rudy Johnson is a low and powerful half back that can break off a big run at any moment. He is also a solid receiver and is third on the Bengals roster in receptions. The defensive tackles and Kawika Mitchell will have to contain him between the tackles so Kansas City's safeties can concentrate on defending the pass.

Though he wears number 82 Reggie Kelly is actually an H-Back which means he plays both the tight end and fullback position. Kelly can lead block as well as he catches passes so he creates a dual threat out of the backfield. The Chiefs will need to watch him closely on third downs as he is a prime target for third down conversion.

The Bengals base offensive formation is an "Offset I" with three wide receivers. The Chiefs linebackers Mitchell and Johnson will need to line up over the strong side when the Bengals use this formation because it seems that Cincinnati almost inevitably runs to that side and rarely uses misdirection. This will however make it more critical for Jared Allen and Kendrell Bell to keep backside contain.

Bottom Line
The Bengals offense is as dangerous as they come and the Chiefs will have to concentrate on keeping Cincinnati's playmakers in front of them. If Cincinnati has success running the ball the Chiefs will have another shoot out on their hands.

Special Teams
One week ago the Bengals kickoff unit was repeatedly torched by Buffalo's return man Terrence McGee. McGee finished the game with five returns for 220 yards and 99 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. This afternoon Dante Hall will have his turn against this much maligned unit and he'd love nothing more than to reward his mentor Dick Vermeil with a send off kick return for a touchdown.

2005 STATS AND NFL RANKINGS

CHIEFS
Total Offense - 377.0 (2)
Rush Offense - 145.3 (4)
Pass Offense - 231.7 (7)
Total Defense - 339.2 (28)
Rush Defense - 102.2 (9)
Pass Defense - 237.0 (30)
Turnover Ratio - +7 (9)
Pts./Game - 24.4 (7)
Opp. Pts./Game - 21.5 (21)


BENGALS
Total Offense - 371.3 (6)
Rush Offense - 124.9 (5)
Pass Offense - 246.4 (10)
Total Defense - 325.5 (15)
Rush Defense - 109.9 (1)
Pass Defense - 215.6 (28)
Turnover Ratio - +25 (1)
Pts./Game - 27.9 (3)
Opp. Pts./Game - 20.9 (13)

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