Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy knows Sunday's showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals will be a fierce battle, particularly after losing the past three games to Zac Taylor's club.
Bieniemy noted a Bengals defense that is underrated nationally but can smother the opponent's game plan.
"This defense, these guys do a great job of just finishing. It's starts up front, you look at those two defensive ends, they get after it," Bieniemy said. "Those guys are relentless. If you want to beat this team, you've got to out-effort them. You've got to out-strain them. You've got to be playing to the echo of the last whistle. So that's the type of game this is going to be. Put your hand in the dirt, knuckle up, 60-minute dogfight."
The Bengals have only accounted for 33 sacks, including playoffs, ranking 29th in the NFL, but they still get pressure that forces quarterbacks to make decisions quickly. As a result, Cincy allowed the lowest completion percentage (58.1) and passer rating (79.9) in the NFL in 2022, including playoffs, per NFL Research.
Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo does a marvelous job using his talent in concert to take away what offenses to do well. Whether it's dropping guys into coverage or bringing pressure with nickel Mike Hilton or one of their safeties, the Bengals can conform to any plan.
Outside of the offensive line playing well to aid Patrick Mahomes, who is dealing with a high ankle injury, running backs picking up blitzes will be key for Kansas City. Given the QB's potential limitations, we could see more Jerick McKinnon on Sunday, as he's a superior blocker.
"I'm not going to lie, it's some big guys coming full speed, you've got to be a little crooked in the mind for sure," McKinnon said of picking up blitzes. "They do a really good job of disguising, bringing guys from depth, unusual looks, and they do a good job in mixing it up."
If the Chiefs can't pinpoint the Bengals' pressure packages, and Mahomes isn't able to extend the plays, things could be a struggle for Kansas City on Sunday.
Cincinnati has been phenomenal at shutting down Mahomes in the second half of games during their three-game streak versus K.C. Mahomes has averaged lower passing yards per game (84.7), passing yards per attempt (5.8), TD-INT ratio (0-2) and passer rating (54.5) in the second half and overtime versus the Bengals than any other opponent since 2021.