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Bengals at Bills: 5 Key Bills to Watch for against Bengals

The up-and-down Buffalo Bills host the unbeaten AFC North leaders on Sunday and we went to the tape to find out which players the Bengals need to best protect in order to get the win.

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I took a lot of heat last week here for not including Seahawks returner Tyler Lockett in my list of the most important players for the Bengals to cover in Week 6. And, it turned out Lockett was a non-factor, at least on special teams. Meanwhile, our number one player, cornerback Cary Williams, struggled all day long and Seattle was forced to move Richard Sherman to try to stop A.J. Green. Let's see if we can have success again in Week 6 with our list of the four most important players for the Bengals to cover and cover well on Sunday.

If Tyrod Taylor doesn't play, the Bills (3-2) will have to rely on their first round pick of the 2013 draft, EJ Manuel. The Virginia Beach native's time is ticking and even if Manuel manages to improve on Taylor's play, Rex Ryan's team is going to miss his running abilities, a key in the Bills' winning record so far. Still, I do remember Thad Lewis in the 2013 game, so Cincinnati (5-0) better be ready.

1) Sammy Watkins

Buffalo desperately needs a playmaker. They could not get anything going in Nashville against the Titans and almost had to punt their way out of town. I know LeSean McCoy is going to play on Sunday, but he won't be at 100% yet, and the Bengals are doing a decent job against the ground game besides some tackling issues. The two-year wide receiver from Clemson was great in his rookie campaign but has been dinged up in 2015, already missing a big chunk of the early season. Nonetheless, the 6'1" wide receiver is hungry - he is still hurt, though - wants the football more, and will test Cincinnati's secondary. Manuel and Watkins are represented by the same agency, so the new starting quarterback might be a bit more interested in getting him the football.

They combined for eight passes for 81 yards and a score against the Dolphins in 2014 when playing together and Watkins knows the Bills' "offense has just been basic" without him out there the past few weeks. With McCoy back and a running game that would potentially be better than last week, watch out for Watkins off the play action fake. He could be very effective against the zone defense, which the Bengals often play.


Watkins has been working on slants and quick hitches so far, but I think Manuel could try to hit for the fences if he has the one on one matchup - as he suggested.


2) Seantrel Henderson

Bengals' defensive end Carlos Dunlap has a very good matchup coming against right tackle Henderson, who had a terrible when he faced Derrick Morgan last Sunday. The huge 6-7, 331 lbs. is in his second year in the league after surprising many last season as a seventh round pick. He took fellow rookie Cyrus Kouandijo's job and never looked back but will have a tougher test yet with one of the best front sevens in the NFL coming to town.


He was really bad in the second half, not only allowing more pressure and another sack but also getting flagged twice.


3) Mario Williams

Still fantastic, coming off three straight 10 plus-sack seasons, he is not the best player in the defensive line anymore - that would be DT Marcell Dareus - but an all-around talent who will give Andre Smith a lot of troubles on Sunday. Williams is one of the best pass rushers of his generation and is also one of the reasons the Bills defense is only allowing 82.2 rushing yards per game, third best mark in the NFL. The Bengals also can't leave a tight end blocking him and think things will go well.


We've seen Cincinnati trusting Tyler Eifert against some other standout defensive ends in pass protection and the results weren't great.

4) Stephon Gilmore

He only allowed a quarterback rating of 4.2 against Titans' quarterback Marcus Mariota, and he is one of the best in the business right now, especially on a defense that puts so much pressure on its secondary any time they blitz - and they blitz a lot, as you can guess. He is one of the most targeted cornerbacks in the NFL - alongside fellow Bills cornerback Ronald Darby, who mans the left side. Gilmore get the job done and Andy Dalton will have to test him the same way he tested Richard Sherman in Week 5. He is very physical when Buffalo allows him to be, and so far he is just giving up some short stuff because of the cushion given to the receivers.


Gilmore is still trying to translate his good play into numbers, but despite dropping some interceptions he is a heck of a player already.


Cincinnati cannot pick on the opposite corner as they did last week. Darby is also a very good defender.

5) Kyle Williams

I know Dareus is not here, but you already know him. He is one of the top three 3-technique in the NFL, period. Kyle Williams, Andrew Whitworth's college roommate and fellow Northern Louisianan is their emotional leaders and is still playing at an All-Pro level day in day out at age 32. The undersized 6'1" defensive tackle is just the guy every fan and coach would like to have on their teams, but not only for his intangibles, also because he is still darn good. Just look at how he dropped to coverage and still chased Mariota out of bounds. Amazing.


Cincinnati could very well try to replicate the Titans' gameplan in the first half of their game where Tennessee was able to control the game and gashed the Bills' defense after three quick three and outs for Buffalo's offense. That is easier said than done because their front seven is terrific, so they will also have to test one of the best cornerback combos in the league. And McCoy is back. Who stops Eifert, though?