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Bengals vs Bills Week 6: Player matchups to watch

The Bengals are up for another good test as they go to Buffalo to face the Bills. Certain injuries make individual matchups interesting this week and we examine some of them.

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The Buffalo Bills have used the past couple of offseasons to undergo a massive roster change. Even though the head coaching situation has been tumultuous the past two years, they have amassed 12 wins in one and a half seasons. It's a stark contrast to the previous five years (2009-2013) where they averaged less than six wins in that span.

While the Bengals are quite healthy at the moment, the Bills are experiencing issues in that aspect, making this week's matchup post a hard one to predict. Nevertheless, we'll try to, based on the injury reports we've read throughout the week.

Charles Clay versus Emmanuel Lamur:

While the tight end position was an Achilles Heel for the Bengals' defense over the years, the team has brought in players to ensure the issues there have subsided. Safeties Reggie Nelson and George Iloka are a couple remedies the Bengals have brought in, and Lamur is another project the coaches have taken on as a rangy linebacker. He's known as the team's best coverage linebacker and we even saw him play a safety-like role last week against the Seahawks, though it netted a big touchdown pass by the Seahawks.

Clay is a versatile player who, when healthy and utilized correctly, creates matchup headaches for defenses. He already has 22 catches for 262 yards and two touchdowns this season, but is currently dealing calf injury. In his two career games against the Bengals while he was with the Dolphins (both Miami victories), Clay has six catches for 57 yards. He hasn't killed the Bengals defense, but a number of those catches were frustrating chain-movers. Lamar might be tasked with keeping an eye on Clay, and he might be a focal point this week, especially with injuries to wideouts Percy Harvin and Sammy Watkins leaving them questionable.

Marcell Dareus versus Russell Bodine:

Over the past couple of seasons, Dareus has quietly asserted himself as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. Joining the likes of Gerald McCoy and Geno Atkins, Dareus has been to the Pro Bowl the past two seasons and is a force at 6'3" and 330 pounds. It's his presence, along with other additions on defense, that has made the unit such a formidable one of late.

Bodine has had a yo-yo-like 2015 campaign. After a decent day against the Raiders and subsequently being graded by Pro Football Focus as the team's best lineman in another game, he's hit the skids a bit. Poor snaps have occurred the past two weeks, as has shoddy blocking. Last week the pocket collapsed on Dalton often to the tune of four sacks and other pressures, though not all of it was Bodine's fault. He has a major test this week against Dareus and if he fails, it could spell doom for the Bengals' offense.

Percy Harvin versus Dre Kirkpatrick:

The fourth-year corner finally got his chance to be a full-time starting corner for the Bengals this year, and after an offseason of positive hype, the on-field performance has come with mixed results. Kirkpatrick and others in the secondary helped bottle up Amari Cooper in Week 1, but other big plays have been given up to wideouts like Steve Smith, Sr. and Jermaine Kearse just last week. He hasn't forced a turnover of any kind and has just three pass break-ups on the year.

Marvin appears to be more of a sure thing to see the field on Sunday, as he went full-go on Thursday while Watkins has been limited all week. A player like the versatile No. 18 can do things out of the backfield, as well as beat a corner on a deep route on the outside. Kirkpatrick will need to stick with Harvin stride-for-stride when responsible for covering him, otherwise Harvin could break big plays.

Bacarri Rambo versus Tyler Eifert:

The fourth-year safety for Buffalo is stepping into a starting role after starter Aaron Williams was placed on Injured Reserve. He's had an up-and-down career as both a spot starter and reserve player, but he has one of the toughest tests of his career this week. While also having to help with covering potential deep throws to A.J. Green and Marvin Jones, he'll need to also monitor Eifert in the middle of the field and red zone.

Eifert is enjoying a Pro Bowl-like season with five touchdown receptions in as many games through 2015. There has really only been one game he hasn't had an impact of some kind this year, and even in that one against Baltimore, a touchdown reception was overruled. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson will likely try to exploit the Eifert/Rambo matchup this week.

Manny Lawson versus Giovani Bernard:

Remember when Lawson was brought in as a Bengals free agent and he helped the team towards back-to-back playoff appearances from 2011-2012? Well, after Cincinnati found Vontaze Burfict and others, they allowed Lawson to leave via free agency and into the loving arms of the Bills for the past three seasons. Though he's a starter, he is still a one or two-down linebacker, as he was when he was with the Bengals.

While Jeremy Hill is the starter at running back for Cincinnati, Bernard has been the spark plug in the running game--particularly late in contests. While Lawson has size and has been a quality complementary player on good defenses the past five years, Bernard might have the shiftiness to scoot around him. If he does, the Bengals could be able to tire out a quality Bills defense, leading to a victory. Or, maybe we're just being nostalgic for a former Bengals player who helped them in their renaissance five seasons ago.