NFL predictions, Week 17: Chiefs gear up to host Bengals

Week 17 of the NFL slate is officially here, and we're here every week of the season to bring you picks for the Chiefs along with the rest of the NFL!

Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs
Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

I don't know about you guys, but I had an incredible Christmas. The whole weekend was great. We spent time with both sides of our families and enjoyed good company, food (for the most part), and drinks. Christmas morning was fantastic, I got to see my son open presents on his first Christmas, cleaned up on all the items from my Christmas list, and got to enjoy time with family. There were two turning points, though, that derailed Christmas just a hair.

First was Saturday night. As is tradition, I smoked a Christmas brisket for my side of the family (my mom, dad, two brothers and their families) and typically it's a hit. This year? Not so much. The brisket itself tasted fantastic, but it had the texture of a Goodyear tire. Not sure where I went wrong, temps and times checked out. I'm assuming it was just a bad cow, that's what we're going with.

The second derailment of Christmas weekend began on Christmas Day. The Chiefs' humbling 20-14 loss to the Raiders is an anomaly for so many reasons. Aiden O'Connell didn't complete a pass in the last three quarters of the game. The Raiders did not score an offensive touchdown. The Chiefs outgained the Raiders by over 100 yards, had 19 first down to Vegas' 12, and held the ball for 34 minutes compared to Las Vegas' 25 and some change. And the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs offense laid an egg big enough to lose the game. Truly unfathomable, but at the same time almost what we've come to expect in 2023.

Do you want to know the best part about 2023, football-wise? It's almost over. The beginning of the year brought us the peak of excitement that a football fan can experience, and the back half has left us with more questions than answers. But as we prepare to turn the page on another year, perhaps the Chiefs will turn the page on a new style of football, one where they get their swagger back and start acting like the Chiefs again. That would be sweet, huh? New Year, new Chiefs. That's what we're going to go with.

If we're talking about New Year's resolutions (like everyone on the internet will be in the next couple of days) we may as well line some out for the Chiefs. First and foremost we'd have to look towards the offensive side of the ball. To be their best selves in 2024, the Chiefs need to limit turnovers, eliminate mental errors, and catch the damn ball. But most importantly, from an intangibles standpoint, the Chiefs need to recapture the swagger that they had in previous seasons. Get confident, start taking things personally, and start kicking ass again.

Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs

And what better opponent to stir up some fire in the Chiefs than the Cincinnati Bengals? Sure, Joe Burrow is out, so the luster of the rivalry isn't quite what it has been in matchups past. But you know who is still around? Jamarr "Pat Who" Chase, Mike "See y'all at Burrowhead" Hilton, and several other familiar faces including former Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown, Jr.

If this group doesn't get the Chiefs fired up (as the Raiders could not) then I don't know that I've got a lot more hope left for them this season. But I don't think that's going to be the case. We've heard Travis Kelce's comments on New Heights this week, and we're getting a sense that these frustrations from weeks of underachieving are starting to get to the Chiefs' offense. Most importantly, the Chiefs' defense is playing at an elite level just in time for Jake Browning to step into Arrowhead Stadium.

It's New Year's Eve, it's Chiefs vs Bengals. It doesn't get a lot bigger than this in the regular season. The Chiefs will come out with a point to prove this week against a stout Cincinnati roster missing their franchise quarterback, and they'll do it in a big way. Travis Kelce's redemption arc begins now and will have people talking about Taylor Swift as a good luck charm again rather than a curse. The Chiefs will run the ball down Cincinnati's throat early and often with D.J. Reader out for the year, and in the process will clinch the AFC West for the 8th year in a row. Chiefs 33, Bengals 21

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns

Are the Browns legitimate contenders with Joe Flacco at QB? If Amari Cooper continues to put up Madden rookie mode numbers, yes. But I don't see that continuing consistently. I do think they're good enough as is to beat a Jets team that almost let the Commanders ruin their Christmas last week. Browns 24, Jets 15

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys

Potential NFC playoff preview with one team still in play for the No. 1 seed and the other scrapping for playoff positioning with their division already wrapped up. I'm used to looking at this matchup as a throw-away noon slot game on Thanksgiving Day, now we're staring down a matchup between two of the NFC's best teams. Detroit might have the foot off the gas just enough to let Dallas slip this one out at home. Cowboys 24, Lions 21

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

This should be a foregone conclusion, but if there's one thing we know about the Buffalo Bills, it's that they will sometimes allow an inferior opponent to stay close enough to pull off the upset. I don't see that happening this late in the year with so much on the line for the Bills. The only way this happens is if Josh Allen plays tight and New England's defense catches him slipping. At Orchard Park, I think they'll take care of business. Bills 29, Patriots 13

Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears

The Bears are...good? I might not go that far, but they're playing way better than they were in the first half of the season, and with Atlanta coming to town, I don't see them slowing down. The Falcons put one on Indy last week, but I like the way Chicago has looked in the last four weeks. Bears 21, Falcons 17

Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts

I want to pick the Raiders here because they're coming off a 63-point performance against the Chargers and a win at Kansas City, but I think their emotional bubble has popped and the Colts might catch them in a lull this weekend. Colts 23, Raiders 18

Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants

Tyrod Taylor had the Giants looking spunky on the evening of Christmas, but the Rams are a real threat to shake things up in the NFC playoffs with the way Matthew Stafford is playing. How cruel would it be to have the Rams end up at the 6 spot in the NFC and for Stafford to march into Detroit and break the Lions' hearts in their first home playoff game since 1993? Rams 27, Giants 20

Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

Philly snapped their skid last week and has a nice double bounce-back opportunity this week with the Cardinals coming to town. If an Eagle and a Cardinal faced off in the wild, we all know who would win. I'm getting ornithological with this one. Eagles 30, Cardinals 20

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Saints losing by eight last week is such a crock. The Rams blasted them in every way and Derek Carr didn't do anything until the last drive of the game. Let's hope performances like that won't sway the good people of New Orleans into being hypnotized by his outlined eyes. He's trash and New Orleans will be trash until they find a different signal caller. Bucs 24, Saints 20

San Francisco 49ers at Washington Commanders

Poor Washington. Got so close last week to get a W in a huge comeback against the Jets just to have a last-second field goal derail them. The 49ers got punched in the mouth by the Ravens at home and are surely out to remind people exactly what they're made of this week. 49ers 37, Commanders 17

Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars

Everyone saying the Jags and Chiefs are broken because the "West Coast-ish" Andy Reid system has been figured out by the NFL is full of it. The Jags have looked mortal, yes, but they will bounce back with a win here and still win the South. Jags 24, Panthers 10

Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens

Game of the week. This one would have been a lot more interesting if KC had found a way to beat the Raiders last week, but it still means a lot in the grand scheme of AFC playoff seeding. With a win, the Dolphins move into the 1 seed with the Bills coming to town next weekend and the Ravens getting the Steelers in Week 18. With a Ravens win, the No. 1 seed is clinched and they can essentially coast until the divisional round. Baltimore had to get up big time last week for their game in San Fran, while Miami fought to grind out a last-second win over the Cowboys. Who has more left in the tank? I think Baltimore will seal the deal this weekend. Ravens 23, Dolphins 21

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans

C.J. Stroud returned to practice this week, and if he plays this one should be a foregone conclusion. The Texans are fighting for their playoff lives and cannot drop this game, and I think you'll see that sense of urgency this weekend. Texans 24, Titans 23

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

Exactly the QB matchup we've all been waiting for: Jarrett Stidham versus Easton Stick. Weird for the Broncos to mail it in at this point in the season. But when you know, you know I guess. Sean Payton is making it clear that Russ is not his guy, so it will be interesting to see what moves they make in the offseason to get rid of him. Hello, New Orleans? I can't imagine Russ and Tyrann Mathieu on the same roster, the Honey Badger would have Mr. Unlimited in tears. Chargers 13, Broncos 10

Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks

Which Steelers team are we going to get? The high-flying "George Pickens is HIM" Steelers, or the team that seems allergic to moving the ball that we've seen much of the season? Seattle looks like they've got some pep in their step with Drew Lock, but I'd imagine we're going to see the return of Geno this week. Either way, I think Seattle at home is a different animal and the Steelers may not be able to duplicate the offensive production we saw last weekend. Seahawks 20, Steelers 13

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

This game could be so compelling, instead, we're just playing for second place in the NFC North. I guess both are technically still in the playoff hunt, but does that matter? Fighting for who's going to get stomped by the Eagles or Cowboys in the first round doesn't sound that appealing to me. Packers 14, Vikings 10