Key To The Game
Run the ball, work the middle of the field, take smart shots deep.
Here are some key statistics from Cincinnati’s 41-17 loss last week at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers:
- Jimmy Garoppolo: 17/25, 296 yards, 3 touchdowns
- Matt Breida: 12 Carries, 121 yards
- Raheem Mostert: 13 carries, 83 yards
- Jeff Wilson Jr.: 10 carries, 34 yards, 2 touchdowns
Slot Wide Receiver, Tight Ends, Running Backs:
- Deebo Samuel: 5 catches, 86 yards, 1 touchdown
- Raheem Mostert: 3 catches, 68 yards, 1 touchdown
- George Kittle: 3 catches, 54 yards
Outside Wide Receivers:
- Marquise Goodwin: 3 catches, 77 yards, 1 touchdown
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what the San Francisco 49ers did to throttle the Bengals last week. They ran the ball 35 times for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. They worked the middle of the field to their slot receiver, tight end, and running backs. They wore down a very thin Cincinnati Bengals defense and then took smart calculated risks over the top. That is the recipe for the Bills to be successful this Sunday.
What To Look For On Offense
The Running Game
It will be difficult for the Bills to run the ball 35 times against the Bengals defense as the 49ers did a week ago, as they will likely be without Devin Singletary with a hamstring injury.
That being said it will be up to Frank Gore to take a majority of the carries and act as a combination of the roles Matt Breida and Jeff Wilson Jr. played last week vs these Bengals by moving the chains and getting the ball into the end zone. There will be holes up the middle this week for Gore to take advantage of.
TJ Yeldon, who caught 53 passes last season, should get his first real game action of the season this Sunday. He could be a fantasy football sleeper filling the Raheem Mostert role as both a running and receiving threat. The Bengals linebackers are not very good in space and Yeldon could be a tough match-up for them out of the backfield in coverage.
Working The Middle of the Field
The Bills need to “Feed the Beas” this weekend. Cole Beasley should easily see 10-15 targets in this game. Nickel Cornerback B.W. Webb is banged up and did not practice Wednesday, which is advantage #1. The Bills should consider putting Beasley in the backfield as an H-Back in the shotgun to create a second advantage… Cole Beasley vs a linebacker. As you saw above, the Bengals linebackers cannot cover well, and the middle of the field could be open for Beasley ALL. GAME. LONG.
Speaking of the middle of the field, this may be a good week for a Buffalo Bills Tight End to start separating themselves from the pack. Tommy Sweeney has had a few clutch grabs this season. Dawson Knox has as well, although he had a huge drop last week. One player that could come in and provide a calming presence at the position is veteran Tyler Kroft. The former Bengal practiced in full for the first time Wednesday since breaking his foot during the off-season. Nothing motivates a player quite like revenge. My bold prediction… if Kroft plays, he scores a touchdown.
Take Calculated Risks Down The Field
Jimmy G threw for 296 yards on only 17 completed passes. This was due in part to the 49ers taking calculated shots down the field and the Bengals defense being susceptible to the play-action. Get John brown lined up one on one with Dre Kirkpatrick and he can surely beat him deep a time or two. Allen just needs to hit him on the numbers, not overthrow him by 7 yards.
What To Look For On Defense
Zac Taylor comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree. Throughout two games the Bengals have been one of the most pass happy teams in the league, mostly due to an utter lack of ability to run the ball. Starting running back Joe Mixon is averaging a measly 1.6 yards per carry. That makes life more difficult for Taylor who likes to “scheme people open” and utilize play-action passes.
The Biggest Threats
Be afraid of John Ross. His deep speed will give number one corner Tre White fits all day. White will likely need help from a safety over the top, which will open up holes in the middle for another threat, Tyler Boyd. The combination of these two men could be the only thing stopping the Bills from easily walking out of Orchard Park with a win Sunday.
Tyler Boyd will be a tough cover for the Bills from the slot, perhaps too tough for Siran Neal. I believe we will see a lot of Kevin Johnson Sunday lined up one on one with Tyler Boyd in the slot.
Don’t Stack The Box, Overload Blitz
The Bills should play it somewhat safe on Sunday and consistently drop six players back into coverage to deal with the threats of Ross and Boyd. The offensive line of the Bengals is the worst in football, and, on top of that, they are dealing with injuries. Cordy Glenn, Andre Smith, and Michael Jordan could all miss the game.
The Bills are capable of generating a pass rush with Hughes, Murphy, Lawson, and Johnson without having to sacrifice an extra rusher. Oliver and the two Phillips’ should easily be able to add pressure up the middle without assistance as well. Star and Edmunds should help the unit stay stout against the run, but even if this approach gives Mixon a little more room to run, it should be canceled out by the effect dropping so many players back could have… players in place to get turnovers.
Prediction: Bills 31, Bengals 23
The Bills will utilize the road map laid out by the 49ers and ride the wave of the cheering fans to get a relatively easy win. I believe the Bengals have the firepower to ring up some garbage time points to make the score appear closer than the game actually will be. The Bengals are banged up and the Bills need to control the clock and keep their defense on the field. If they do, there will be opportunities for big plays down the field when the starters are gassed and have no true backups to speak of.
Check out The Bills Guys on the Buffalo Fanatics Podcasting Network to hear my thoughts on why this will not be a “trap game” for the Buffalo Bills.