Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
As it turns out, we get to see the Bengals and Bills square off after all. Of course, the Jan. 2 regular-season game was canceled after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati. Now, in the postseason, the matchup has resurfaced, but this time in Orchard Park, N.Y.
Maybe the biggest development in this rematch of sorts is the injuries the Bengals' offensive line has sustained during the time between. La'el Collins is out. Alex Cappa and Jonah Williams are question marks for Sunday’s game. The Bills were 2.5-point road favorites for the Monday night game that was stopped. Now the line has jumped in Buffalo's favor by another 2.5 points. If home-field advantage is only 1 or 1.5 points, it appears the oddsmakers have added a point or so because of the cluster injuries on the Cincinnati offensive line. Either that or they know the masses will bet the Bills no matter what the number is and they are adjusting slightly for that as well.
The Bengals were pretty lucky to advance past the Ravens, even after the 98-yard scoop and score by Sam Hubbard late in the second half. Joe Burrow was under pressure all night. He was sacked four times and Cincinnati managed only 51 rushing yards. Baltimore outgained the Bengals 364 yards to 234. This is the sixth time in seven games that the Bengals have been outgained this season by a team that made this year's playoffs. It is a bit reminiscent of the beginning of the season when the Bengals had offensive line issues. Burrow was getting sacked and opponents were outgaining Cincinnati pretty regularly. Then they went on their run, winning games SU and ATS. Now the offensive line problems are back and the Bengals are losing in the stats once again. Burrow is getting sacked and the running game is suffering.
The Bills have issues of their own. They were up 17-0 on Miami before that game wound up going down to the wire. They are winning SU but are only 4-6-1 ATS in their last 11 games. Buffalo went 1-3-1 ATS this season when facing teams that made this year's postseason. For some reason, the Bills don't seem to be using Josh Allen on designed runs as much as of late, and the absence of Von Miller is hurting them in closing out games with a pass rush.
My lookahead number came to Bills -5.5. When I crunch my first set of numbers this week, it comes out the same, Buffalo -5.5. We've seen the actual line tick to 5.5, but the consensus currently is 5 and there are even 4.5s in the market. The Ravens provided Buffalo with a blueprint on how to dominate this Bengals team, and that is to be physical, run the ball and get pressure on Burrow. If Buffalo can successfully pull all of that off, I believe they win and cover. If the Bengals end up without all three of the aforementioned offensive linemen, the Bills' chances of winning and covering increase dramatically as this season has told us, that is a key component to this Cincinnati team's success.