Bills vs. Bengals: Top 5 Storylines to Watch in NFL Week 17

12/30/2022
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The Buffalo Bills enter Week 17 riding a six-game winning streak, including winning four of them away from Orchard Park with the latest being a 22-point destruction of the Bears in Chicago. The win locked up the Bills third straight AFC East championship and kept them atop the AFC race for the number one seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Buffalo now prepares for an out-of-division game as they visit Cincinnati on Monday Night Football. With that, here are five storylines to keep an eye on when things kick off Monday in Ohio.

AFC Supremacy 

The Bills currently hold down the number one seed in the AFC with a 12-3 record. The Chiefs are also 12-3, but Buffalo has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Kansas City. Entering Week 17, Buffalo is one-game ahead of Cincinnati, who currently sits in third. A Bills win on Monday would eliminate the Bengals from a shot at the bye and home-field advantage and give the Bills a chance to lock it down in Week 18. However, if the Bills were to lose this game, Cincinnati would tie Buffalo in the overall record and hold the head-to-head while bringing the Chiefs’ outcome into play. This is a long way to say a win Monday is huge for the top spot in the conference. 

Signal Caller Showdown

Although Josh Allen and Joe Burrow will never be on the field at the same time, this game is a huge showdown between two of the top quarterbacks in the league. Entering Week 17, Burrow and Allen are second and third in the MVP race, according to BetUS.com. The pair is also top three in passing touchdowns, top six in passing yards, and top seven in QBR. The only place that there is much of a difference in their numbers is their rushing stats, with Allen sitting in fourth for yards and third in touchdowns while Burrow is 11th in yards and fourth in rushing TDS. So, while the stats may be close, who wins on Monday will give that QB a decided advantage in Twitter beef.

Streaking!

It was too cold to rip off your clothes and sport your birthday suit across America last week, but that didn’t stop the Bills and Bengals from streaking into week 17. “Someone’s oh must go!” is one of my favorite lines used by pundits of both MMA and boxing when you have two undefeated fighters entering a contest. While this isn’t two perfect records going at it, we do have a Bills squad riding a six-game winning streak visiting a Bengals team rocking a league-best seven-game winning streak. Barring a tie, one of these two teams will place a tally in the “L” column and eliminate their winning streak.

DBs vs WRs

The Bills’ secondary if finally starting to look like what we expected it to be all season. All-pro corner Tre White is starting to look like himself again, jamming receivers at the line, and showing the burst that made him special. Across from him, we saw rookie Kaiir Elam and Dane Jackson earn close to a 50/50 split in snaps. Add to that trio Damar Hamlin, Taron Johnson, and safety Jordan Poyer who has yet to start a game the Bills lost, and you have a legit secondary once again. That group now gets to try and slow down the combo of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, who rank 5th and 17th respectively in yards per game. The Bengals’ duo has also hauled in 15 touchdowns on the season. The winner of this battle could decide the winner of the game.

Can James Cook?

Bills’ rookie running back James Cook is coming off of a game where he rushed for a career-best 99 yards and added his second rushing touchdown of the season. If he can keep taking some of the pressure off of Josh Allen and the passing game, the Bills’ offense will be that much scarier. Repeating that performance against Cincinnati may be easier said than done. The Bengals enter week 17 allowing just 106.4 rushing yards per game, which is good enough for seventh best in the league. They’re even better their last three games, holding their opponents to just 74.7 ground yards per, which ranks third over that span. Cincinnati also only allows .7 rushing touchdowns per game. So, add all that together, and James may have some issues Cook’ing, but if he does it should be seven in a row for Buffalo.

 

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