The 3-2 Cincinnati Bengals will travel to Buffalo to take on the 2-3 Bills Sunday at 1pm at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bengals come into this game highly confident in their defense, which held Tom Brady & company to just a pair of field goals in last Sunday’s 13-6 victory. That was the first time since 2009 Brady did not have a touchdown pass in a game.
The Bengals’ D will have another tough test this week in Buffalo, as the Bills’ two-headed rushing attack in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller comes in ranked third in the National Football League. Spiller is still not 100 percent healthy from an ankle injury suffered earlier in the season, but he is expected to see some playing time on Sunday.
With EJ Manuel out with a LCL sprain,the Bills will send quarterback Thad Lewis to start for only the second time in his career on Sunday. Lewis spent the past two seasons with the Bengals’ AFC North rival Cleveland, so he has studied this defense a few times before. One of the things Lewis is known for is running the read-option, so the Bengals defense needs to keep him inside the pocket and not let him use his legs.
The Bengals are winless on the road this season, including an embarrassing loss to Cleveland where they were held without a touchdown. One of the keys to this game is Andy Dalton being able to connect with his receivers on a consistent basis. On the few drives this season where the Bengals offense has seemed to be clicking on all cylinders, Dalton does a great job of hitting all his receivers across the field, including tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. The Bills have the 22nd best run defense in the league, so look for the Bengals to come out and try to establish the run game early with the tandem of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard.
The key matchup this weekend in Buffalo will be the Bengals’ defensive line versus the Bills’ offensive line. The Bengals have proved they have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Last week they were able to get to Tom Brady often and you could see it rattled him in his inaccurate passes to his receivers. If the Bengals can stop CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson early in the game, this will make it harder for Lewis to establish the passing game.
Andy Dalton and AJ Green have found it hard to get on the same page this season. Green has 31 catches for 361 yards and three touchdowns so far this year, and although these are decent numbers, everyone knows Green is not your average receiver. Green is due for a breakout game, so look for Dalton and Green to finally get on the same page this week against a Bills secondary who is returning two starters in Stephon Gilmore and Rob Brooks who have yet to play a game this season and safety Jairus Byrd who hasn’t seen live game action since week one.
The Bengals are still looking for their first road win of the season when they travel to Buffalo and I expect they will get it with an outstanding defensive effort containing Thad Lewis and Andy Dalton’s best performance of the 2013 season.