The Bengals take their undefeated record on the road this weekend to face the Buffalo Bills. The most interesting thing this game may bring is a chance (be it, a small chance) of snow this early in the season. So what do the Bengals need to do in order to leave Buffalo and head into their bye week with an unblemished record?
Build an early lead
In the Bills' last two games, Buffalo has put up a total of just three points in the first half. The Bills have averaged 64-yards of total first half offense in the last two. If the Bengals' defense keeps pace with what has hampered the Bills up to this point and scores on their first possession like they have almost every game this season, the Bills could be out of this game early.
I want to see the Bengals' confidence carry into Buffalo and see them start as hot as they have all season.
Get A.J. Green involved
Good things happen when A.J. Green finds opportunities early. The defense shades to his side and then other opportunities open up for the offense. If Green has a big day (like when the Bengals faced Baltimore) the score is likely to be lopsided in the Bengals' favor. I don't think the Bills' offense could keep pace with the Bengals in a shootout.
Don't play to the competition
This is not meant to discredit the Bills team. Only, the Bengals have the potential to face a shell of the current roster. There are a bunch of high profile names on the injury report and the Bengals could be facing guys who wouldn't normally be playing. It is important to play strong football and not let the momentum swing out of your favor when playing against backups who will be extra hyped to be in the game.
Whether QB Tyrod Taylor (knee) plays remains a crapshoot so EJ Manuel may get his first start since Week 4 of 2014. RBs LeSean McCoy (hamstring) has been limited in practice this week and Karlos Williams (concussion) was still not practicing as of Thursday. And the Bills would be severely depleted if Boobie Dixon and Boom Herron are asked to share the load, especially as Herron was just signed to the team two weeks ago.
Throw the football
A few weeks ago when the Bills faced the Patriots, Tom Brady put up 40 points, 28 first downs, and 507 yards, 466 of which came in the passing game, the most a Buffalo defense has ever allowed. The Bengals are ranked as the number 2 offense in the league behind the Patriots. Simple theories say they should be able to move the ball through the air on this Buffalo defense.
One area where the Bengals may find a big advantage is throwing against CB Ronald Darby. He is a rookie cornerback out of Florida State. There also could be opportunities with nickel back Nickell Robey matching up against Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.
The Bengals have been very good at bringing pressure from the defensive line and this week they need more of it. There is still confusion around which quarterback they will face, but the Bengals need to be ready for either. Tyrod Taylor is a guy who can do some damage with his feet. In him the Bengals will face someone who can burn you with the passing game as well as by running. If there is an opening, Taylor will exploit it with elusiveness and speed.
If the Bengals face E.J. Manuel, they'll be looking at a guy hungry to prove his role on the team with a big arm. This presents a challenge due to the lack of film on a guy who hasn't played much this season.
The Bengals need to accomplish two things on Sunday:
- Stay healthy
If they can do each of those two things, they'll head into the bye with two weeks to prepare for the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers and from there, the second half of this season.