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Buffalo Bills vs Cincinnati Bengals: First half open thread

If the Bills harbor any hopes of making the playoffs, they need to win today.

The Buffalo Bills are not in a strong position for playoff contention. Thanks to their lousy AFC record (three of Buffalo’s four wins came against NFC teams, and four of their five losses were in the AFC), the Bills are at the back of the pack when it comes to conference seeding. In other words, they have no room for error during the second half of their season:

If the Bills are to make a playoff run, every remaining game is of vital importance. Especially today’s match against the 3-5-1 Cincinnati Bengals.

This is a game that the Bills should be able to win on paper. They are among the league leaders in pass rush, the Bengals are some of the worst pass protectors, and Andy Dalton is ineffective when pressured. The Bills have the top running game in the AFC, LeSean McCoy should be healthy again following the bye week, and the Bengals aren’t a stellar run defense.

And yet...

The Bengals have an excellent one-two punch at receiver, with AJ Green and Tyler Eifert both presenting major mismatches. The Bills have struggled against size receivers all year, and they just retooled their secondary to try and fix this problem.

Gio Bernard, who picked up 73 yards and a touchdown on nine touches versus the Bills last year, is the type of scatback who could bust through Buffalo’s defense, which leads the league in fifty yard pass plays given up.

The Bills just announced the possibility of a right tackle by committee, with both Seantrel Henderson (who hasn’t played in a game in almost a year) and Jordan Mills (who’s on a serious cold streak) being rotated against Carlos Dunlap, owner of five sacks and 35 pressures this season.

Tyrod Taylor has an abysmal record playing from behind, as the Bills have won but a single game of his in which the team has trailed by four or more points at some time. There are a number of signature losses where Taylor can hang his hat: Last week at Seattle, the start of the season against Baltimore, last year with the Chiefs and Eagles. And he only has one signature win: The drive against the Tennessee Titans last year. If the Bills fall behind early, do they really have it in them to take the lead again?

The Bills need to come out with confidence and show this Bengals team their superiority. Otherwise, the playoffs are a mirage for one more season.

We’re talking about the game in here. Let’s go, Buffalo!