1:00 PM ET, November 18, 2012
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
After gaining a much-needed boost of confidence, the Cincinnati Bengals have a prime chance to lift their playoff hopes.
The Bengals would appear to have a favorable schedule over the next few weeks, beginning with Sunday's visit to the beleaguered Kansas City Chiefs.
Just when it seemed that it might continue its historic trend of inconsistency, Cincinnati pulled off a decisive 31-13 win over defending champion New York last Sunday. Andy Dalton threw a career-high four touchdowns while helping his team end a four-game losing streak, and the Bengals' defense forced four turnovers and sacked Eli Manning four times.
"That was huge for us," defensive tackle Domata Peko said. "We really needed that win. It was important because they're world champions and when you can compete against a team like that, it shows us we can compete against anybody."
Cincinnati has made back-to-back playoff appearances only once in franchise history (1981-82) and will get its chance to make a push toward achieving that goal over the ensuing weeks. The Bengals (4-5) will play their next five games against teams that are currently below .500.
Wide receiver A.J. Green, though, said Cincinnati is not taking this stretch lightly, and he pointed to a 34-24 loss at last-place Cleveland on Oct. 14 as evidence why the Bengals shouldn't.
"We can't look past anyone," Green told the team's official website. "This is the last part of the season and I feel like the game we had last Sunday gave us momentum. The best momentum to have is in the second half of the season."
Cincinnati would appear to have its chance for some momentum against the Chiefs (1-8), who have dropped six in a row. Kansas City has been outscored 157-78 during the losing streak, its longest in a single season since a seven-game slide Oct. 5-Nov. 23, 2008.
The Chiefs have produced 16 points or fewer in each of their last five games but nearly won in Pittsburgh on Monday night. Ryan Succop made a 46-yard field goal as time expired in regulation to tie it at 13-all, but Matt Cassel was intercepted on the second play in overtime, setting up the Steelers' game-winning kick.
"We're disappointed about the final result, but I really think our team played a much more competitive game overall than we have been playing," coach Romeo Crennel said. "We had some opportunities to win the game, but there are things we have to polish up and get correct so we can win the game."
With Brady Quinn not yet cleared to return from a concussion, the Chiefs will start Cassel again Sunday.
"Brady does feel better. I'm glad he's feeling better. But he hasn't been cleared to play yet," Crennel said. "I can't take the chance on practicing the guy and not having him ready."
Cassel missed one game earlier this season with a concussion of his own and had to fill in for Quinn when he exited a 26-16 loss to Oakland on Oct. 28.
Cassel has posted his lowest quarterback rating (66.6) in five seasons as a starter, and he has 12 interceptions to only six touchdowns in his eight games.
He was intercepted twice in his most recent matchup with Cincinnati on Dec. 27, 2009, and one of those sealed a 17-10 win for the Bengals. Kansas City's Jamaal Charles had 102 yards on 24 carries in that game and enters this one after reaching the 100-yard mark for the third time this season Monday.
Charles, who has 734 yards, gained 233 in the Chiefs' lone win Sept. 23 at New Orleans.
"He's a guy that has the ability to make people miss," Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said.
The Bengals, who have won consecutive games in the series, are making their first trip to Kansas City since a 27-20 defeat Oct. 14, 2007.
"Reggie and Marvin are getting pretty close," Lewis said. "They've worked extremely hard."
The Chiefs' receiving corps might be thin for this game. Jon Baldwin is getting tested for a concussion, and Dwayne Bowe -- tops on the team with 49 receptions, 626 yards and three TDs -- is also expected to be limited in practice this week due to an ailing thigh.
More from ESPN.com
Fisher, '13 top pick, works with K.C.'s backups
Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, was working with the backups at practice Thursday.
Outsiders: Biggest weaknesses for AFC West teams
Football Outsiders identifies the top remaining needs for Kansas City, Denver, Oakland and San Diego, including the Chiefs' lack of a vertical passing game.
Outsiders: Biggest weaknesses for AFC North teams
Football Outsiders IDs the top remaining needs in the AFC North, including holes in the receiving corps for both the Browns and Bengals.
Sando: Offseason grades for all 32 NFL teams
Mike Sando hands out offseason grades for all 32 NFL teams with the help of ESPN analysts Bill Polian, Louis Riddick, Matt Williamson and Field Yates. The Jets come out on top with an A grade.
Bengals-Chiefs: What to watch
After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 11 Bengals-Chiefs matchup.
• Get Atkins and Dunlap blocked: Despite the Chiefs' immense struggles this season, their offensive line is one of the better front-five groups in the league. But dealing with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap is a tough assignment, and QB Matt Cassel has not performed well under pressure this year. As good as Atkins and Dunlap are at rushing the passer, the Bengals surprisingly are worse in pass defense when they rush four or fewer. But they also don't have great blitzing defenders in their back seven. Dunlap had 1.5 sacks in Week 10.
Recent Blog Posts
|Avg Points Allowed||23.7||28.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||CIN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||CIN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Cincinnati leads 5-2|
|Dec 27, 2009||CIN 17, KC 10|
|Dec 28, 2008||CIN 16, KC 6|
|Oct 14, 2007||CIN 20, @KC 27|
|Sep 10, 2006||CIN 23, @KC 10|
|Jan 1, 2006||CIN 3, @KC 37|
|Nov 16, 2003||CIN 24, KC 19|