This matchup features a pair of the league’s hottest teams battling it out for the top spot in the conference. A win for Buffalo means setting them up for home-field advantage, plus a bye week, if they are able to secure the top seed — something that could be invaluable to this franchise. A Bengals win means Buffalo’s road to the Super Bowl gets much harder.
These two heavyweights have battled through their respective divisions with plenty of cross-over this season. Buffalo and Cincinnati share 10 games against common opponents, and this week for Mr. B’s Breakdown, I wanted to dive into those common matchups and see what teams have done to beat the Bengals before.
Cleveland Browns (6-9)
- Week 8: Browns 32, Bengals 13
- Week 11: Bills 31, Browns 23
- Week 14: Bengals 23, Browns 10
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)
- Week 1: Steelers 23, Bengals 20 (OT)
- Week 5: Bills 38, Steelers 3
- Week 11: Bengals 37, Steelers 30
Tennessee Titans (7-8)
- Week 2: Bills 41, Titans 7
- Week 12: Bengals 20, Titans 16
New York Jets (7-8)
- Week 3: Bengals 27, Jets 12
- Week 9: Jets 20, Bills 17
- Week 14: Bills 20, Jets 12
New England Patriots (7-8)
- Week 13: Bills 24, Patriots 10
- Week 16: Bengals 22, Patriots 18
Miami Dolphins (8-7)
- Week 3: Dolphins 21, Bills 19
- Week 4: Bengals 27, Dolphins 15
- Week 15: Bills 32, Dolphins 29
Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
- Week 4: Bills 23, Ravens 20
- Week 5: Ravens 19, Bengals 17
Kansas City Chiefs (12-3)
- Week 6: Bills 24, Chiefs 20
- Week 13: Bengals 27, Chiefs 24
Buffalo’s record in these common games? 8-2. Cincinnati’s record in these common games? 7-3.
When first examining this list, it struck me as quite the gauntlet of tough games for both teams. Both dropped close divisional games, while also pulling through in tough conference games. With the record only one game apart, I looked a little deeper to see who had the edge.
Buffalo completed the 10 games with an offense averaging 24.6 points per game. Their point differential over the same span is plus-81. The defense also is impressive, only allowing 16.5 points per game. The offense isn’t scoring at will like we thought they might in the beginning of the season, but when your defense shuts teams down to the extent they do, 25 points per game will get the job done.
Cincinnati is almost as impressive as Buffalo over their 10-game stretch. Burrow has the offense scoring at a 23.3-points-per-game clip, while the defense is only allowing 18.1 points per game. Not a stark difference with Buffalo, but the Bengals’ plus-52 point differential is slacking compared to Buffalo’s plus-81.
The losses are different for each team, as well. Buffalo’s two losses came to the Jets and Dolphins, while the Bengals lost to the Ravens, Steelers, and Browns.
In this game Monday night, every play will matter. Both teams have shown tough stuff, and it shows, as they sit atop the AFC. Buffalo had victories over the teams that took down the Bengals. Let’ see how it happened, and if Buffalo can re-create it in their clash.
Week 1: Steelers 23, Bengals 20 (OT)
Burrow threw a career-high four interceptions, and the Steelers beat the Bengals 23-20. T.J. Watt had six tackles, three for a loss, a sack, and this interception, propelling his team over the Bengals.
Buffalo doesn’t have a T.J. Watt, but their defensive line has continued being effective without Von Miller. If Ed Oliver, A.J. Epenesa, and Greg Rousseau can’t get pressure, they must still find a way to be disruptive, like getting Burrow out of the pocket or blocking passing lanes.
Week 5: Ravens 19, Bengals 17
Burrow drove his team down the field in the fourth quarter and scored on a one-yard run to give the Bengals a 17-16 lead, but gave the ball back to Lamar Jackson and the Ravens with too much time left on the clock (nearly two full minutes). Jackson used his legs to help set up a Justin Tucker game-winning field goal. Here is the run that tilted the scales for the Ravens.
Josh Allen is on pace to set a new career high in rushing yards this season. If Allen can make the right read on Ken Dorsey’s RPO concepts, he has the ability to expose the Bengals’ linebackers. Allen’s legs could determine the outcome of this game, like it did for Jackson and the Ravens.
Week 8: Browns 32, Bengals 13
The Browns made life miserable for Burrow on Halloween, as he was sacked five times while also throwing an interception. The strip-sack shown here halted a Bengals drive and set the Browns up with great field position.
Cleveland’s defensive backs do a great job not giving any room to the receivers, forcing Burrow to hold the ball. Tre’Davious White, Kaiir Elam, Jordan Poyer, and the rest of Buffalo’s secondary will have their hands full matching up against one of the best receiving corps in the league — if not the best outright. If they can provide coverage like this, the defensive line is set up to make game-changing plays — and in a tight game, one coverage sack, fumble, or bad throw could change the outcome.
After watching how the Bengals lost these games, it gave me confidence for Buffalo. The mobility Allen provides, packaged with the stout defense Buffalo boasts, will be a handful for Cincinnati. All of the Bengals losses have come at the hands of aspects of the game Buffalo does well.
Burrow will have hands in his face and pressure coming from Buffalo’s defensive line. Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd will have to face multiple All-Pros in Buffalo’s secondary, and even with the game being in Cincinnati, I like Buffalo’s edge in the quarterback matchup. Burrow and Allen both can sling the ball with the best of them, but Allen can run miles better than Burrow. I think that’ll be the difference in the game. Allen wins his first matchup, but it might not be the last one this season between these two squads.
Prediction: Buffalo 33, Cincinnati 28