What It Means
The Bills are coming off a tough loss at Cleveland on Thursday night, and are now sitting at 2-3 at the bottom of the division. Against another AFC foe in the Bengals, the Bills will play in yet another important game, although this time, they will be playing without EJ Manuel. It will be a grueling matchup, but if the Bills truly want to make a push for the playoffs, there aren’t many more games they can afford to lose.
The Bengals are coming off an impressive defensive victory against Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Bengals were able to hold the perennial great with no touchdown passes, effectively snapping Brady’s 52 game touchdown streak. Sitting in a three way tie for first place in the AFC North, the Bengals seek to push ahead to take the lead.
Matchups to Watch
Stephon Gilmore vs. AJ Green
Gilmore seeks to make his triumphant return to the field after suffering from a broken wrist in the preseason. AJ Green is the most explosive player on the Bengals’ offense, but Dalton has struggled to feed him the ball, and Gilmore may only make it worse. Granted Gilmore plays, it will be his first game back, so it can be expected for him to make some mistakes.
Colin Brown/Doug Legursky vs. Geno Atkins
Geno Atkins has established himself as one of the NFL’s premier interior defensive linemen. The Bills have struggled at left guard all season, and their task will not be any easier against Atkins. If the Bills want to ease Thad Lewis into the game, it will be essential to block Atkins to establish a run game and relieve pressure.
CJ Spiller/Fred Jackson vs. Bengals Front 7
Last week, the Bengals held the Patriots under 100 yards on the ground. Without Manuel, the Bills will have to heavily rely on the run game to blanket Lewis. If the Bills are unable to establish the rush, throwing the ball against a stingy pass defense would put tremendous pressure on Thad Lewis. Look for Spiller and Jackson to split carries evenly.
The Bills Will Win If…
They are able to effectively rush the football. Airing the ball out with Lewis may not be the ideal way to win the football game, especially since this is only his second career start. Secondly, the Bills have to convert on third downs. They have consistently struggled all year long, and it won’t be any easier against the Bengals. The Bills also have to make Dalton uncomfortable. Dalton is on pace to throw a career low 16 touchdowns and a career high 16 interceptions. Pressure has proven to throw Dalton off his game, and the Bills certainly have the talent up front to apply pressure and the ability to create turnovers.
The Bengals Will Win If…
They can stifle the Bills rushing attack. Lewis’s abilities are currently unknown, and the Bengals will surely test him. The Bengals also have to keep the ball safe. The Bills have more interceptions than any other team, and Dalton has struggled, so it is imperative that they keep the ball. Finally, if the Bengals can get the Bills off the field on third down.
Overall, this will be an extremely tough game for the Bills to win. Although they get Byrd, Gilmore, and Goodwin back from injuries, they lost Manuel and may also lose Johnson. The Bills are clearly struggling with injuries. The Bengals have a very tough defense, and will look to make Lewis uncomfortable in the pocket. The Bengals will also have an easier time considering the crowd noise will be down because the game didn’t sell out. I just don’t see the Bills being able to pull this game off. I do believe that they will put up a good fight, but I believe the Bengals defense will overpower the Bills offense.
Bengals Win 24-14.