Here’s what the Vegas odds say about the Kansas City Chiefs-Bengals game in Cincinnati

Jill Toyoshiba/jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has started 85 games in the NFL between the regular season and playoffs combined, and he is yet to lose to the same team three times.

In fact, there are only six teams he’s lost to twice, and among those six — the Titans, Bills, Chargers, Colts, Patriots and Bengals — he has also beaten every one of those teams.

The Bengals have the chance to be the first team to get him a third time.

But they’ll have to overcome the odds.

The Chiefs are narrow 1 1/2-point favorites ahead of their trip to Cincinnati on Sunday, their opportunity to beat the team that not only knocked them out of the playoffs in January but also one that got them weeks earlier with another comeback win.

The Chiefs have acknowledged this game has their attention, and it’s not a group that typically acknowledges one of the 17 has a greater importance than any of the others. To be fair, though, they’re just stating the obvious. That loss in the AFC Championship Game required a second-half collapse we’d not yet seen from this team under Mahomes, and it didn’t help that Mahomes played a role in the collapse.

Which is kind of the whole story of this weekend, right?

Mahomes tends to fare well in these types of revenge games, so to speak. Take a look at the trip to Tampa Bay earlier this season.

That’s the primary reason for my upcoming pick. But it’s not the only reason.

The Bengals haven’t performed as well along the defensive line as they did a year ago — they have the 28th best sack rate in the NFL in 2022 and were 14th in the same category in 2021.

And despite all of the offensive-line turnover, they are vulnerable in the same spot they were a year ago — pass protection. But the Chiefs are in a better spot to actually take advantage of it. They have recorded at least three sacks in five straight games and 21 overall in that stretch. They have the 10th-best pass rush in the NFL, bolstered by a career-year from All-Pro Chris Jones, who is the highest-rated interior defensive lineman in the game, per Pro Football Focus.

Jones, you might recall, said he spent the offseason contemplating missed sack opportunities against the Bengals last year, a storyline overshadowed by the second-half collapse that played a significant role in that loss.

Much will be made about the Chiefs’ young secondary — even by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who referred to this as a measuring stick for the group — but young doesn’t mean worse. The Chiefs aren’t really in a worse spot to defend against the Bengals’ talented receiver trio (Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd) than they were a year ago. Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed might not have the name recognition for it yet, but he’s playing the best football of his career and deserves Pro Bowl consideration.

So while as much as Mahomes will be the primary factor in the pick — as he always is when you pick the Chiefs to cover the line — the defense’s surge is a secondary one. Collectively, three of its best four outings have come over the past three weeks.

The notes, as always: The Bengals are 8-3 against the spread this season, tied with the Titans and Giants for the best marks in the NFL. The Chiefs are 4-6-1 against the number. The over/under for the game is 53 points.

The line: Chiefs -1.5

The pick: Chiefs 27, Bengals 23

Last week’s pick: Chiefs -15.5

My record against the spread this year: 7-4

PLUS THREE

1. Isiah Pacheco, over 58.5 rushing yards

It’s a new day when I’m picking a Chiefs running back to hit the over, whether it’s attempts or, in this case, yards. But in the first game without Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs operated with Pacheco as the clear-cut top back. He’s had 53 carries over the past three games, and he’s topped 69 yards in all three.

Cincinnati’s rushing defense is basically middle of the pack — 13th in yards, 11th in yards per carry.

2. Chiefs over 26.5 points

The offense is on a tear, with yardage totals of 437, 485, 486, 499 and 529 over the past five games. Don’t let the 26-10 win against the Rams last week fool you — the Chiefs struggled in the red zone, which obviously affected the point total, but they still have the sixth-best red-zone touchdown percentage in the league, even after that hiccup. The evidence suggests that’s a one-game blip. The Bengals defense is 21st in yards allowed per play, and 26th in total pass yards allowed.

3. Skyy Moore, over 24.5 yards

Moore played a career-high 35 snaps against the Rams, and that’s a week after he played a career-high 27 against the Chargers. He’s been stripped of his punt-returning duties, which was long overdue, but the relief of that pressure actually could help his contribution to the offense.

Prop bet record last week: 2-1

Prop bet record this season: 17-14