Bengals vs. Bills: Watch for blitzing defensive backs

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

The Buffalo Bills like blitzing defensive backs and they've become effective at it.

The Buffalo Bills are averaging nearly four quarterback sacks per game this season, ranked third in the NFL with 18. Defensive end Mario Williams leads Buffalo's defense with 7.5 quarterback sacks; the only player with more than three. However, as Mark Gaughan with the Buffalo News writes, there's significant contributions from blitzing defensive backs.

The Bills have rushed a defensive back on 16 percent of opponents’ pass plays (35 of 219), according to News statistics. Last season, the Bills rushed defensive backs on a league-low 6 percent of pass plays, according to ProFootball-Outsiders.com.

On the other hand, the Bengals pass protection is one of (if not) the best in the NFL. A primary reason for that is the quick-hitting passing game, limiting the time that Andy Dalton has to sit in the pocket to go through his reads. Another reason is the team's offensive line, which has allowed only six hits on Andy Dalton and four quarterback sacks this season -- the remaining seven sacks are not attributed to the offensive line according to Pro Football Focus.

When Buffalo's defensive backs blitz, "opposing quarterbacks have completed only 14 of 30 passes for 115 yards" and a passer rating of 54.1. This also doesn't mean that the Bengals will face a heavy blitz. According to Gaughan, the Bills have rushed more than five players nine times.

"We have a package where it’s part of a pressure, where we’re bringing five or more guys," Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine told BuffaloNews.com. "But we also have a package where we call it simulated pressure, where the DB is the fourth rusher. In certain protection systems they have to throw hot off of that player."

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