The Buffalo Bills enter Week 17 sitting atop the AFC with a 12-3 record, but holding onto that bye and home-field advantage is on the line when they visit Cincinnati Monday night. Buffalo enters this one riding a six-game winning streak. The Bengals are the only team in the NFL with a longer run, they come in sporting a seven-game span without a loss or tie. Here are the top five things I believe Buffalo needs to do to extend its winning streak, keep ahold of the top seed in the AFC, and knock Cincinnati from contention for home-field throughout the postseason.
Let Josh Be Josh
The Bengals’ defense has been pretty bad when it comes to allowing yards in the passing game, and, as we know, Josh Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in football. Heading into Monday, Cincinnati has allowed 225.9 passing yards per game, which is 21st overall. They also only take down the opposing QB on 4.81% of dropbacks which is the 29th worst in the game. If Allen has time to stand in the pocket and either dice up the Bengals’ secondary or decide to read the defense and then run, it’ll be a good night for Bills Mafia.
Dash the Dynamic Duo
The Bengals have arguably the best wide receiver combo in football in Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. That duo currently ranks fifth and 17th respectively in yards per game. The Bengals’ pair has also hauled in 15 touchdowns on the season. Luckily, the Bills are finding their stride in the secondary with All-Pro corner Tre’Davious White starting to return to form, and don’t forget the Bills are 11-0 when Jordan Poyer plays. The winner of this battle could decide the winner of the game.
Run the Rock
The Bengals have a terrible rushing offense, ranking outside of the top 20 in yards per rush and yards per game, but when you have the combo listed above, you don’t run a ton. As for the Bills, while many in the media and on Twitter want to scream about the Bills’ poor run game, it is very good. Entering Week 17, they lead the NFL at 5.3 yards per attempt. If anyone comes back at you with “Josh Allen does all the work,” NO! Even without his yardage (and eliminating all QBs), the Bills rush for 4.81 yards per attempt and would sit in the top five in yards per carry.
Bring Down Burrow
During the Bengals’ seven-game winning streak, Joe Burrow has only been sacked ten times, and he hasn’t been brought down behind the line of scrimmage more than twice in any of those contests. Compare that to the first half of the season, where he was sacked 29 times in eight games. The Bills finding a way to tackle the LSU product for some big losses would be a nice feather in their cap. Worth noting, Burrow’s passing game coordinator when he was at LSU was Joe Brady, who is now on the Bills’ staff as the QB coach. Maybe Buffalo can tap into his knowledge to get an edge over the former Heisman winner.
All Gas, No Brakes
The Bills and Bengals score lots of points. When you get them, get more! Heading into this showdown, the Bills rank fourth in the NFL at 28.0 points per game, the Bengals come in just behind them at 26.1, tied with the Detroit Lions. If you want to win this game, you need touchdowns, not field goals. If you can double-dip, do it! The Bills lead the league in point differential at +154, if they have a chance to add to that gap, do it!
Bonus: I’m not going to get all-number nerdy to explain this one. It’s pretty simple! If Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds can control the middle of the field, eliminating crossing routes and hammering the running game, Buffalo should honestly cruise to a 13-3 record and keep ahold of the number one seed in the AFC.