In the 2023 NFL Wild Card Round against Skylar Thompson and the Miami Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills just barely managed to win. Still, they have won eight of their previous nine games, and they hope to make it nine against the Cincinnati Bengals. As such, let’s look at our bold predictions for the Bills as they face the Bengals in the NFL Divisional Round.
The Bills do not seem to strike fear in the Bengals. That’s the lay of the land right now in this matchup. Remember that in their previous game, Cincinnati chose to receive the ball and was able to score a touchdown. They believe they can succeed in moving the ball against Buffalo’s defense, which has shown weaknesses in deep coverage.
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In addition, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen has recently been prone to turnovers and this could be a deciding factor in the upcoming Divisional Round game against the Bengals. It goes without saying that Allen must reduce his turnovers in order for the Bills to have a chance at winning against the Bengals’ strong defense. The difference in turnovers will be crucial in determining who will advance to the AFC Championship Game.
That said, here are four predictions for the Bills in the playoffs as they face the Bengals in the Divisional Round.
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Lock it in. 👊#CINvsBUF | #BillsMafia pic.twitter.com/iLzkXTdvPo
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 16, 2023
4. Bills pass rush sacks Burrow four times
Joe Burrow’s cool-under-pressure reputation precedes him. However, this week, poor pass protection may come back to bite him. Keep in mind that in the most important game of the season, Cincinnati may be missing three of its starting five offensive linemen. On the other end, the Bills are coming off a four-sack victory over Miami.
Take note that Burrow has been sacked at least four times in four games this season. Consequently, the Bengals went 1-3 in those games. We have the Bills pass rush generating no less than four sacks and 10 QB hits in this game. Needless to say, Burrow will be feeling the pain.
3. Bills receiver corps dominates Eli Apple & Co.
The Bills have been performing well on offense in the past four weeks. In fact, they have scored an average of 34 points per game. They have had to because they have also allowed an average of 24 points per game in that period.
That said, Josh Allen and his group of skilled receivers will present a very difficult challenge for the Bengals. Allen’s main target, Stefon Diggs, is considered one of the best receivers in the NFL. Meanwhile, remember that WR2 Gabe Davi had a strong performance in the Wild Card Round last season with 200 yards and four touchdowns. Additionally, tight end Dawson Knox has scored five touchdowns in the last five games. All three players had strong performances in Super Wild Card Weekend and will likely continue to be a force here.
It will be up to Eli Apple and his fellow Bengals secondary to slow these guys down. Good luck doing that. We can easily see the Bills receivers dominating this matchup.
2. Josh Allen goes over 300 yards
The NFL will finally see the duel between star quarterbacks Josh Allen and Joe Burrow. They did play each other in Week 17, but that game was eventually canceled. Both were able to score points on their opening drives in that game, so this should be an exciting game if that trend continues.
Keep in mind, however, that Allen’s recent errors have many doubting the Bills’ chances as they host the Bengals. Allen had three turnovers in their narrow win against the Dolphins last weekend and had a total of 19 turnovers during the regular season. He will now face a Bengals defense that had a plus-6 turnover differential during the regular season. That is among the top five in the NFL.
Recall that Allen had a mixed-bag performance in the Wild Card Round. He completed 23-of-39 passes for 352 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also rushed for 20 yards but was sacked seven times and had a fumble returned for a touchdown. Despite the mistakes, Allen was able to rally and score consecutive touchdowns to end the third quarter. He definitely helped carry the Bills and will do so again here. We have Allen putting up 300 total yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and one fumble.
1. Bills barely advance
While Bills fans may be worried about Allen’s tendency to turn the ball over, Bengals fans should be equally concerned about Burrow’s pass protection Burrow. The home-field advantage is also a significant factor. The Bills have a strong record at home this season, going 7-1 at Orchard Park. We also expect the Bills to play inspired thanks to Damar Hamlin’s recovery.
Still, this will be a very exciting game. We have both teams combining for over 60 points. Remember that Burrow has a wealth of pass-catching options that can keep up with Allen, Diggs, and Davis. It’ll be top-tier NFL entertainment.
When the smoke clears, however, we expect the Bills to ultimately survive by the skin of their teeth. That would set the stage for a possible rematch between Allen and Patrick Mahomes in the AFC Championship Game.