The Bengals are facing the Bills in Buffalo on Sunday afternoon in the AFC Divisional Round. After the regular season meeting between these teams was canceled following the tragic injury to Damar Hamlin, NFL fans are getting another chance to see two of the league's most exciting young quarterbacks face-off in a high stakes game, and likely with a light snow falling.
Both teams were relatively unimpressive in their wins on Super Wild Card Weekend, with the Bills giving up 31 points at home to the Dolphins third string QB and the Bengals needing a 98-yard fumble return for a touchdown to seal the deal against the Ravens.
The Bills are currently 5.5 point home favorites against Cincinnati and the current over/under point total is set at 49 points.
How These Two Teams Playing on Offense Coming into the Divisional Round?
The Bills offense is on fire, scoring 32 or more points in their last 4 games, including their win last week. While that number is aided by some non-offensive scores, it's hard to deny the Buffalo offense isn't the main reason the Bills haven't lost since early November.
Josh Allen did throw 2 interceptions last week, giving him 16 picks in just 17 games. If the Bills have a true weakness, it's that their offense can be reckless with the football. Buffalo had the third most turnovers in the regular season, behind only the hapless Colts and Texans. Luckily the Bills defense has created 27 turnovers, leaving Buffalo with an even turnover differential for the year.
The Bengals offense has struggled a little more than Buffalo over the last few weeks, ever since Joe Burrow's four-touchdown outing against Tampa Bay. Several underwhelming showings against the Patriots and then Baltimore on consecutive weeks, which have included Joe Burrow being sacked 8 times in those games, shouldn't have Cincinnati feeling great heading into Buffalo.
In addition, the Bengals running game has been virtually non-existent of late, with just 51 yards in round one against Baltimore and less than 60 yards per game over their last three. This tells us that the offensive line for the Bengals remains an issue against teams that generate pressure. With Buffalo allowing the fourth fewest rushing yards per game, it's hard not to see a scenario where most of the Bengals offense is generated by Joe Burrow making plays downfield to his core of talented receivers. The good news for Cincinnati fans is that is probably exactly where they prefer the pressure to be.
Let's Talk About These Two Defenses
The Bills defense hasn't appeared as dominant as they did earlier in the year. After allowing an average of just 18 points all year, Buffalo has given up 23 or more points in three of their last four contests. Plus, they will again be without their elite safety Micah Hyde, who won't be making his return from injury this week.
While the Bills do have plenty of talent across their pass defense, it will be critical for them to put pressure on Joe Burrow and the Bengals struggling offensive line to give the guys in the secondary the best chance for success. Buffalo was able to generate four sacks against Skylar Thompson and the Dolphins last week.
The Bengals defense has been underrated and over-performing all season. With the sixth best scoring defense in the league, they are holding opponents to less than 20 points per game. The biggest issue with Cinicinnati is they have one of the lowest sack rates in the NFL. This is one of the major reasons that the Bengals pass defense is near the bottom third of the league and if they can't get pressure on Josh Allen, that could make it a long day for the Bengals in Buffalo.
Any Big Takeaways from the Early Betting Lines?
One very noticeable thing is that the line for this game opened at Buffalo -4 and moved a point-and-a-half despite 66 percent of the bets coming in on the Bengals to cover the spread. The total for the game also went down a point-and-a-half despite 67 percent of the bets and 89 percent of the money coming in on the over. That tells me that the public sees all the talent on the offensive side of the field and expects a shootout, even though two of the better scoring defenses in the NFL are also out there.
So What Are We Betting on Sunday?
The Bengals have found a way to figure things out in the second half of games the last couple seasons, but they also have had incredible fortune when it comes to critical turnover luck late in important games.
This just isn't happening again this Sunday. I've got the Bills and I've got them in a bunch of ways because I think they absolutely come away with the win at home. I'll take the Buffalo money line at -250 with a nice hefty bet. I'm also putting a large bet in with a 7-point teaser, for Buffalo to cover +1.5 and the total to go over 42 points. Lastly, I'll put a small bet on Buffalo to cover -5.5 points, because with the sharp money on the Bills to beat the spread and my own sense that the Bengals defense can't pressure Josh Allen enough to slow the Bills down, it seems too good to pass up.
The whole season has felt like a crash course for the Bills and Chiefs to meet again in the playoffs after last year's legendary showdown. It's what the league wants, and what all the fans outside of Cincinnati and Jacksonville want. Who am I to bet on denying their happiness? Buffalo wins going away 35-14. There are going to be a lot of broken tables in Orchard Park New York on Sunday.
MORE: Storybook Start: Bills Return Opening Kickoff for TD in First Game After Damar Hamlin Collapse
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.