Top 2 Bills Advantages
Good advantage – Kick return – The Bills haven’t had many opportunities, but that figures to change facing the third-lowest touchback percentage team in the league. Cincinnati is giving up the sixth-best average drive start in the league to opponents (22.7 yard line). Add in the return of speed demon
Best advantage – Run game – Cincinnati has a good run front, which is allowing just over 99 yards per game on the ground, but Buffalo has faced top five run defenses each of the past two weeks and run for 203 and 155 yards respectively. Buffalo leads the AFC in rushing at better than 152 yards per game.
Bills Number 1 Must
Points from another phase – The Bills offense should produce on the ground again, but big plays may not be easy to come by against a Bengals defense that doesn’t surrender them. Cincinnati has a stingy defense in the red zone as well so Buffalo might need points from either special teams or on defense to post a victory.
3rd down all around
The Bengals are not only proficient on defense when it comes to third down, but on offense as well. Cincinnati ranks eighth in the league in third down conversion percentage (41.2%) and seventh in third down defense (33.3%).
QB Andy Dalton finds a way to move the chains on offense. Cincinnati is fifth in the league in 3rd-and-4 or less converting an impressive 72.4 percent of the time. Perhaps even more significant is their 3rd-and-10-plus conversion rate of 29.4 percent, which ranks fourth in the NFL.
On defense the Bengals lead the league in three-and-out percentage, forcing opponents off the field after just three offensive plays more than a third of the time (34.5%).
Cincinnati’s ability to sustain drives with third down conversions is what has then at the top of the league in another offensive category. The Bengals lead the NFL in average length of scoring drives. Jay Gruden’s offense pounds out an average of just over nine plays per scoring drive (9.13 plays). That’s well above the league average of 7.63 plays and also chews up a good deal of clock. That’s why Cincinnati is also sixth in the league in scoring drives of five minutes or more (7).
Johnson questionable, Hall returns
Cincinnati may be without one of their better defensive linemen in DE Michael Johnson on Sunday. Johnson suffered a concussion in last week’s win over New England. He was replaced in the lineup by Wallace Gilberry, who had two sacks in Johnson’s absence.
The good news for the Bengals is they’re expected to have top CB Leon Hall back in the lineup coming off of a hamstring injury.
Tight end trouble
Buffalo over the years has had enough trouble when facing one talented pass catching tight end. Cincinnati has a pair in Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert. Gresham is more the all-around tight end, while Eifert plays almost an H-back type role. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has made his two tight ends more frequent primary targets in the passing game the last few weeks with the opposition giving the most attention to A.J. Green.
Gresham and Eifert have combined for 28 targets over the past three games. They rank second and third on the team in receiving yards so far this season.
Their takeaway-giveaway ratio thus far this season is a manageable minus-2, but the Bengals are tied for the AFC lead in lost fumbles with six, which is also good for second-most in the league. Only the New York Giants have more lost fumbles than Cincinnati. The Bengals are also one of just nine teams in the league that has more lost fumbles than interceptions.
Betting on red
The Bengals offense hasn’t been getting down inside an opponent’s red zone very often in games this season. In fact they have the second-fewest red zone trips in the league with just 11 in five games. When they do get down there however, Cincinnati more often than not punches it in for a touchdown. Their offense has produced seven touchdowns on 11 red zone trips good for the third-best touchdown percentage in the NFL (63.6%). Only Denver (82.6%) and Miami (71.4%) are better.
Quote of the Week
“My command of this offense is high, it’s not like I’m going in there and coach says, ‘We can’t run this because you can’t do it.’ He’s putting in the game plan. I’m putting in the time I need to to prepare to run this game plan. And we’re going to run it.”
QB Thad Lewis
Stat of the Week
The Bills are first in the league in run play percentage in the first half of games. Buffalo calls a run play in the first half 57.5 percent of the time (96-167) gaining an average of 4.21 yards per carry.
Milestones in reach
Buffalo has scored on every one of their 14 red zone possessions this season (7 TDs, 7 FGs) making them one of just four NFL teams with a 100 percent scoring mark in 2013.