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Aside from Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs, this upcoming game against the Cincinnati Bengals may be the toughest matchup yet for the Buffalo Bills. Unlike some other battles this season, the Rumbling Herd appears to be catching Joe Burrow’s Bengals at the worst time possible.
You think the Bills are red-hot as of late, winning six consecutive games? Well, the Bengals are white-hot winners of their past seven matchups.
Obviously, one of these streaks will fall on Monday Night Football. One could make the case that the Bengals have been the hotter team of the two. Three of their wins during this streak have been by more than one possession, compared to two by the Bills.
We’ve seen the Bengals defeat the Chiefs, Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, and the Patriots in three of their past four wins. Whereas Buffalo has taken on teams such as the Lions, Jets, and Bears, the last two were products of catching a team at the perfect time.
But each team simply plays the games on their schedule, and the Bills do still have a better record, a better point differential, a better offense, and a better defense. Who’s to say Buffalo can’t get one more statement win under their belts before the playoffs arrive?
Buffalo Bills vs. Bengals game details, where to watch
- Monday, January 2, 2023
- Start time: 8:30 PM ET
- TV channel - ESPN/ABC
- Location - Paycor Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Keys to the game
- The battle between MVP candidates
This game features two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. Chances are, both will end their careers with a Super Bowl win and an MVP award in their trophy case by the time their careers are done. But neither have accomplished such goals just yet.
Burrow came close, coming just four points away from a Lombardi a season ago. And Allen was the MVP runner-up. Clearly, these quarterbacks have plenty of motivation coming into this matchup, looking to prove they’re the top dog.
Even though this is Allen’s fifth season in the NFL and Burrow’s third, they’re both 26 years old. But both are at the top of their game.
Allen came into the season as the favorite to win NFL MVP, but despite the Bengals having a worse record, Burrow actually is ahead of the Buffalo QB, according to Vegas odds.
Their passing numbers are similar heading into Week 17.
So why is it that Burrow would be ahead of Allen in the MVP race? Clearly, they’re neck and neck, and this game will be the swing vote pushing one candidate ahead of the other.
- Pressuring Joe Burrow
This season started with Burrow getting pancaked, having been sacked seven times in Week 1 and six times in Week 2. He’s been sacked an average of twice per game ever since. But now right tackle La’el Collins is out for the season, meaning the Bengals will once again have to alter their protection scheme.
Collins’ injury comes at a bad time, with the Bills ranking 11th in hurries, pressure rate, and sacks. Replacing Collins on the right side of the line will be 2020 sixth-round pick Hakeem Adeniji, and he’s never graded well, according to Pro Football Focus.
This game will present a fantastic opportunity for Buffalo’s rotational rushers, with Leslie Frazier able to mix up his blitz packages, hoping to take advantage of one of Cincinnati’s weaknesses. If the line can’t hold up, we could see a rough day from Burrow.
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Buffalo Bills vs. Bengals game prediction
- This season’s record: Buffalo Bills - 13-3, 1st in AFC East
- Cincinnati Bengals: 11-4, 1st in AFC North
We have two top-ten-scoring offenses and two top-ten-scoring defenses. Our hunch is that this game will end up being a shootout, with both scoring attacks proving too good to slow down. The Bengals have scored fewer than 20 points just three times this season, compared to just twice for the Bills, and this matchup won’t be any different.
Despite being on the road, Vegas sees the Bills as the better team, with Buffalo favored by just -1.5 points. With an over/under set to 49.5 points, even oddsmakers are expecting both teams to light up the scoreboard in primetime.
We envision one of the most exciting wire-to-wire games of the football season, but Buffalo’s newfound rushing success, combined with Cincinnati’s lack of a ground game as of late, could be the difference as both offenses look to maintain momentum in Week 17. In the end, it will be Josh Allen proving he’s the bigger difference-maker in a close win for Bills Mafia.
Game prediction: Bills 32, Bengals 30 - Bills victory