After dropping their first three games of the season, the Cincinnati Bengals pulled off a big win last week, albeit against the winless Cleveland Browns. They haven't shown it much this season, or even going back to 2016, but the Bengals do have a considerable amount of talent on their roster; this is after all a club that reeled off five consecutive playoff appearances from 2011-15. Cincinnati has big-name players on both offense and defense.
Perhaps the win against the Browns was the just the motivation the Bengals needed to be able turn their season around, but then again, it was against the Browns. Either way, the Buffalo Bills should not take their road-game at the Bengals, which comes ahead of their Week 6 bye, lightly.
Here are five Bengals to keep tabs on against the Bills.
QB Andy Dalton
Dalton is coming off a strong performance against the Browns where he went 25-for-30 for 286 yards and four touchdowns. Before last week, there had been serious discussion of whether the Bengals should bench Dalton. Throughout his career, the 29-year-old has typically been a strong regular-season performer. He has three Pro Bowl selections on his resume.
WR A.J. Green
The ultra-talented wideout currently ranks in the top 10 in both receiving yards and touchdowns this season, despite subpar play from Dalton. Virtually since coming into the NFL in 2011, Green has been one the league’s elite receivers. His rare combination of speed, height, and leaping ability makes the 29-year-old a tough cover for any cornerback; he’s made the Pro Bowl in each of his six seasons in the league. Expect Dalton to go to Green often and test either Bills rookie CB Tre’Davious White, or whoever lines up on the opposite side for Buffalo with the possibility that E.J. Gaines will be out.
The three-headed rushing attack
This group has been among the disappointments for the Bengals this season. Much was made ahead of the season about a possible three-headed rushing attack of, Jeremy Hill Giovani Bernard, and rookie Joe Mixon. The Bengals currently rank 23rd in rushing yards, with neither of the three backs having yet scored a touchdown on a rushing play. But still, they are a talented group and should be respected. Bernard, particularly, is also quite the threat in the receiving game and has two touchdowns on the season.
LB Vontaze Burfict
Burfict saw his first action of 2017 last week against the Browns after serving a three-game suspension for a hit he laid on a player in the preseason. The 27-year-old is relentless and aggressive to a fault; he’s been suspended for other hits in the past as well and is someone who many people would call an over-the-top or even a dirty player. Regardless, it is crucial that opposing offenses are always aware of where he is on the field. Burfict will undoubtedly play a big role from this point on with a Bengals defense that is currently ranked just below the Bills in points allowed at third in the league.
CB Adam 'Pacman' Jones,
The veteran cover man is still getting the job done, manning a starting position for the Bengals at age 34 and in his 11th season in the league. Jones has 96 career starts under his belt, a mark which one doesn’t get to without being a skillful and crafty corner. Keep an eye out for how the Bills receivers fare against Jones, particularly, with the team’s top wideout, Jordan Matthews, out of the lineup.