The Buffalo Bills get their first shot at revenge against the team that knocked them out in the divisional round of the playoffs last January in a stunning 27-10 Cincinnati Bengals win that scuttled a highly anticipated showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Bengals drew inspiration in that game from the fact the NFL already had begun selling tickets to a potential Chiefs-Bills game that would have been played in Atlanta. The league had decided to play the game at a neutral site since K.C. and Buffalo finished the season just a half-game apart due to the Bills’ game that was cancelled when safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field in Cincinnati during a Monday night game.
Bet on Bills vs. Bengals
This time, the Bengals are favoured at home in a Sunday night game that has major ramifications for the AFC playoff picture at the midway point of the season.
The fact the Bengals are favoured speaks both to their recent uptick in play and some inconsistency from the Bills in recent weeks. But the Bills have one major advantage here: time. They will be working on extra rest given that their last game came on a Thursday night in Week 8, giving coach Sean McDermott and his staff extra time to prepare for a crucial matchup.
Bills vs. Bengals Odds
|Bills Moneyline Odds||+115|
|Bengals Moneyline Odds||-135|
|Spread odds||Bills +2.5 (-110), Bengals -2.5 (-110)|
|Over/Under||43.5 points (over -110, under -110)|
|Time/Date||Nov. 5, 8:20 p.m. ET|
About the Bills (5-3 SU, 3-5 ATS, 3-5 o/u)
The Bills are hoping the extra time gave quarterback Josh Allen time to recover from a shoulder injury that has affected his play this season, though his 71% completion percentage leads the NFL.
Allen is coming off one of his better performances of the season last week against Tampa Bay in which he threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, but he also may have aggravated the injury and spent time in the blue medical tent getting treatment during the game. He completed 31 of his 40 pass attempts for 324 yards.
He did, however, discover some new targets with the emergence of talented tight end Dalton Kincaid and a continued push by one of his better red-zone options in Gabe Davis. He also re-established his rapport with top target Stefon Diggs, who gave a fiery pregame speech last week that McDermott mentioned in his post-game comments.
The Bills’ biggest concerns are on defence. They just haven’t looked the same since linebacker Matt Milano and cornerback Tre’Davious White went out with injuries. While they limited Baker Mayfield and Tampa Bay to 302 total yards last week, it’s worth noting that Tampa Bay had struggled in recent weeks and appears headed nowhere this season.
About the Bengals (4-3 SU, 3-3-1 ATS, 3-4 o/u)
Quarterback Joe Burrow missed all of training camp with a calf injury and his play early in the season seemed to demonstrate that he wasn’t entirely healthy. Lately, however, Burrow has been locked in and his team has looked like a Super Bowl contender once again.
The Bengals followed a shaky17-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks that pulled them back to .500 with an impressive 31-17 victory at San Francisco. The Bengals have won three games in a row and four of their last five.
Burrow immediately served notice that he had regained his mobility in that 49ers game when he ducked out of two potential sacks and scrambled to complete a key third-down pass on the Bengals’ opening touchdown drive. He threw three touchdown passes in the game and completed 19 straight attempts at one point.
The Bengals’ defence isn’t particularly impressive top to bottom – ranking 27th in the league in total defence – but it has shown ball-hawking tendencies in recent games. The Bengals picked off Brock Purdy and forced a fumble on a sack. Bengals linebackers have picked off five passes this season, the most in the NFL for that unit.
The Bills have sorely missed Milano, White and DaQuon Jones when it comes to limiting opposing passing attacks and this is a bad time to see Burrow and a very hot Cincinnati passing game on the schedule.
Since the injuries, Buffalo has gone from No. 4 in expected points allowed per play to 29th since Week 5. That decline has come mostly in pass defence, where Buffalo is giving up the sixth-highest success rate to rival passers in its last four games.
The Bills were concerned enough about this matchup to acquire Douglas via trade and to sign free-agent defensive tackle Linval Joseph.
If Burrow can repeat his performance from last week, he will be the most dangerous quarterback this Bills’ defence has faced all season. The Bills no doubt will key on Burrow’s favourite target, Ja’Marr Chase, but that could leave them susceptible to Tee Higgins, who caught five balls for 69 yards last week at San Francisco. Higgins is slowly regaining full health after a rib injury caused him to miss Week 5.
Josh Allen (BUF) to score a rushing touchdown
In addition to the previously mentioned injuries to Milano, White and Jones, the Bills will be without CB Kair Elam, who is on injured reserve, LB A.J. Klein (back) and LB Baylon Spector (hamstring).
Cincinnati won’t have S Tycen Anderson (knee) or DT Josh Tupou (shoulder), while RB Joe Mixon (chest), LB Akee Davis-Gather (knee) and G Max Scharping are all questionable.
It should be a pleasant evening near the Ohio River, with temperatures at kickoff expected to be in the 13 C range with partly cloudy skies and barely any wind blowing (about 4 km/h) from the southeast.
- The Bills have hit the first quarter game total over in 16 of their last 22 games.
- The Bengals have hit the moneyline in 14 of their last 21 games. They’re -130 on this moneyline.
- Cincinnati has covered the second-quarter spread in seven of its last eight games.
Player Prop Trends
- Burrow’s 87.5% completion percentage at San Francisco was the best of his career. He also threw for 283 yards against a good pass defence. Buffalo is so depleted in the secondary it traded for cornerback Rasul Douglas from Green Bay. Burrow is -110 to pick up more than 263.5 yards through the air.
- Buffalo WR Gabe Davis is coming off a career week, having caught nine passes for 87 yards and another touchdown last week. He is +187 as an anytime touchdown scorer and his yardage total is set at just 41.5 (at -110), so this might be an opportunity to wager he’ll stay hot.
- Tight end Dalton Kincaid caught his first career touchdown pass last week and it seems likely he will get more opportunities now that starting tight end Dawson Knox is on injured reserve after undergoing wrist surgery.
Wagers to Consider
- Burrow and Cincinnati’s hot passing game figure to put a lot of pressure on the Bills to improve their pass defence and even the few extra days won’t help McDermott and his staff pull off a miracle in this one. The Bengals look like a good play here given the Bills’ injury issues and the iffy status of Allen’s right shoulder.
- Allen has hit the passing yards under in 10 of his last 13 games. Rather than try to guess about the health of his right shoulder, this might be a spot to wager on Allen’s perfectly healthy legs. He is +150 to score a touchdown at any time.