For the third week in a row, the Buffalo Bills enter a game as the better team. For the third week in a row, they should prove as much on the scoreboard. This sets up a nightmarish trip for the Cincinnati Bengals. They’re 0-2, struggling badly on both sides of the ball, and stepping into a stadium electrified by a home opener and 2-0 start.
I’ll repeat what I said last week – if the Bills are a playoff team, this is a game they win easily. The Bengals got torched in their home opener against San Francisco. They had a historically bad defensive performance. While it’s true they have some players the Bills have to be worried about – namely receivers John Ross and Tyler Boyd – the Bengals are the inferior team. Their biggest strength is negated by the Bills’ rock-solid pass defense.
Even without Devin Singletary, if it comes to that because of a hamstring injury, the Bills should still be able to run the ball. That should set things up nicely for Josh Allen. New Era Field will be popping – just imagine the scene next week if the Bills improve to 3-0, which they should.
The Bengals' best strength, its passing game, will have to go up against the Bills' outstanding pass defense. It's important that defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier makes things look a little muddy for Bengals quarterbackAndy Dalton after the snap, just to delay his decisions a bit. The Bills' pass rush is going to be key because Dalton is going to gain yards via the air. I think the emotional lift the Bills will get from the home-opener crowd is a real factor. I think that's good for three points, for sure. The Bills will need more than 21 points this week, and they will get it.
If there was any thought that this could be a “trap game,” with the New England Patriots coming to town in Week 4, you can forget it. The Bills are going to be ready to go for the home opener, and should win this game handily.
The Bengals have been unable to run the ball – they’re averaging less than 30 rushing yards per game. And while they’re second in the league in passing yards, much of that has come in garbage time, and the Bills have been terrific against the pass since last season.
Cincinnati is also giving up an average of 31 points per game. The Bills ought to feast.
A 3-0 start for the Bills is a real possibility, and a win against the underachieving Bengals will be a necessary boost to the Bills’ swagger, with the Patriots coming up on the schedule.
The Bills wield a passing game and depth at running back that will take advantage of the Bengals’ porous defense. While Dalton is a sentimental favorite among Bills fans, he and the Bengals' offense need a lot of help. The Bills must exploit the Bengals’ lack of offensive balance, particularly against a team that’s rushed for 59 total yards so far – dead last in the NFL.