Jobs on the Line?
Cincinnati, OH - The Kansas City Chiefs are trying to avoid finishing with the worst record in franchise history. Their opponent in Sunday's season finale, the Cincinnati Bengals, can relate to such futility.
The Chiefs take on a Bengals team that, for a change, is looking to close a season on a positive note as the clubs meet at Paul Brown Stadium.
It's been another discouraging season for Kansas City and Cincinnati, though the Bengals (3-11-1) have finally had some success the past two games. They put an end to Washington's slim playoff hopes with a 20-13 win Dec. 14, then got their first road victory Sunday over Cleveland.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Bengals –3 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. Current NFL Public Betting Information shows that 58% of more than 3,831 bets for this game have been placed on the Chiefs +3.
The Bengals limited the Redskins to 280 yards and followed that up with their best game of the season. Cincinnati held the Browns to 182 yards, and Leon Hall's first-quarter interception return for a touchdown provided all the points the Bengals needed in a 14-0 win.
The shutout was their first since beating the Browns 30-0 on Nov. 26, 2006.
"I read the quarterback's eyes,'' said Hall, who came into the game without an interception this season. "I read the receiver and I jumped the route. It felt good to take it all the way.''
Cincinnati was feeling good about its running game as well as its defense last week. Former Chicago Bear Cedric Benson carried 38 times for 171 yards, the most productive game from a Bengals back since Rudi Johnson's 202-yard day against the Browns in 2004.
"It feels awesome,'' Benson said. "That was some smash-mouth football right there. When you can run the ball like that, it's a momentum builder. It says a lot for your guys. It's a big statement. It also gets the defense wondering what's going on. It wears them down.''
While the Bengals have shown some progress in December, the Chiefs (2-13) have been losing in excruciating fashion. Kansas City blew a 10-point lead in Denver on Dec. 7 and fell 24-17, then suffered a stunning home defeat the next week to San Diego. The Chiefs led 21-10 at the 2-minute warning, but gave up two touchdowns in the final 1:13 and fell 22-21.
They had a 31-24 cushion in the third quarter last Sunday against AFC East-leading Miami, but the Dolphins scored the game's final two TDs to win 38-31.
Kansas City piled up 492 yards of offense against the Dolphins, its most productive day since recording 499 against Seattle on Oct. 29, 2006. However, four turnovers - three on Tyler Thigpen interceptions - doomed the Chiefs again.
"The second half was our Achilles' heel and it has been all year," coach Herm Edwards said.
"I think we played with tremendous energy in the first quarter and second quarter. And then in the third and fourth quarter we get a little bit, 'Oh, boy.' And I think that's just part of growing up and maturing.''
The Chiefs have set the franchise record for losses in a season, and a defeat in Cincinnati will give them the worst winning percentage in team history, topping the 1977 club that went 2-12. Kansas City is 2-22 in its last 24 games.
Coaching a team that's played 18 rookies this season, Edwards knew Kansas City was likely in for another tough year. He doesn't expect Sunday to be his last game, despite the resignation of president and general manager Carl Peterson last week.
"When you go into a season where you're going to try to rebuild and play as many young players, you can't take account of the things that are going to happen along the way," Edwards said. "When you think about all the things that have happened to this football team ... I think for the most part, we've handled it the best way we knew how as a football staff."
Kansas City and Cincinnati have both had to go with young, inexperienced quarterbacks due to a series of injuries. Thigpen has so far shown more potential than the Bengals' Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Prior to the three-interception performance last week, Thigpen had completed 60.5 percent of his passes in his previous eight starts, throwing for 13 touchdowns and five INTs.
Fitzpatrick hasn't thrown an interception in the past two games, but he's totaled just eight touchdown passes in 11 starts.
Fitzpatrick - along with Benson - might be in for big days against Kansas City. The Chiefs are 30th in the NFL in passing defense (241.5 yards per game), rushing defense (155.9) and scoring defense (28.3 ppg).
This is Kansas City's second trip to Cincinnati since 1987. The teams have met at Arrowhead Stadium the past three seasons with the Chiefs winning twice, most recently 27-20 on Oct. 14, 2007.
Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez each had two touchdowns in that contest.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
CINCINNATI is 3-2 against the spread versus KANSAS CITY since 1992
KANSAS CITY is 3-2 straight up against CINCINNATI since 1992
4 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
CINCINNATI is 1-1 against the spread versus KANSAS CITY over the last 3 seasons
CINCINNATI is 1-1 straight up against KANSAS CITY over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at CINCINNATI since 1992
CINCINNATI is 1-0 against the spread versus KANSAS CITY since 1992
CINCINNATI is 1-0 straight up against KANSAS CITY since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
(!) [QB] Brodie Croyle IR - Knee - 10/19/08
[C] J.P. Darche IR - Knee - 10/30/08
[C] Rudy Niswanger missed last game, "?" - Knee - 12/14/08
[CB] Maurice Leggett missed last game, "?" - Shoulder - 12/14/08
[DE] Turk McBride IR - Shoulder - 11/20/08
[LB] Donnie Edwards missed last game, "?" - Knee - 12/14/08
[OT] Branden Albert injured last game, "?" - Leg - 12/15/08
[QB] Damon Huard IR - Hand - 10/22/08
[RB] Kolby Smith IR - Knee - 11/09/08
(!) [QB] Carson Palmer out indefinitely - Elbow - 10/24/08
[C] Kyle Cook IR - Toe - 10/18/08
[CB] Corey Lynch IR - Knee - 10/27/08
[CB] Johnathan Joseph IR - Foot - 11/21/08
[DE] Eric Henderson IR - Neck - 12/07/08
[DE] Frostee Rucker IR - Hamstring - 11/29/08
[DE] Robert Geathers IR - Knee - 11/29/08
[FB] Jeremi Johnson IR - Knee - 11/29/08
[LB] Keith Rivers IR - Jaw - 10/19/08
[OG] Scott Kooistra IR - Knee - 11/28/08
[OL] Andrew Whitworth IR - Ankle - 11/28/08
[OT] Levi Jones missed last game, "?" - Hamstring - 12/14/08
[RB] Chris Perry missed last game, "?" - Groin - 12/14/08
[RB] DeDe Dorsey IR - Hamstring - 09/30/08
[RB] Kenny Watson missed last game, "?" - Hamstring - 12/14/08
[S] Chinedum Ndukwe missed last game, "?" - Foot - 12/14/08
[S] Dexter Jackson IR - Thumb - 10/30/08
[S] Marvin White IR - Knee - 12/02/08
[TE] Ben Utecht missed last game, "?" - Foot - 12/14/08
[WR] Antonio Chatman IR - Neck - 11/19/08
Posted: 12/24/08 10:53AM ET