Scouting Report - Week 11 - Bills-Bengals

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**Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 - Stephon Gilmore vs. A.J. Green

**The two South Carolina natives and former SEC foes are very familiar with one another. Gilmore helped hold Green to four catches for 36 yards in the meeting between the Bills and Bengals last season.

2 - Ryan Groy vs. Geno AtkinsGroy has the size and strength to sit and anchor against most NFL defensive tackles, but Atkins is a four-time Pro Bowler and has more sacks than any other DT since he entered the league in 2010 (47.5). This is an assignment that will require some assistance from G John Miller.

3 - **Jerry Hughes vs. Cedric Ogbuehi *Buffalo's talented pass rusher has racked up a ton of QB pressures this season. Against one of Cincinnati's weak links on their offensive line, Hughes could turn some of those into sacks Sunday.

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage - Run game
Buffalo's run game comes out of the bye week as healthy as it has been since the start of the season. LeSean McCoy and company figure to have success against Cincinnati's 24th ranked run defense.

Best advantage - Pass rushThe Bills lead the league in sacks and sack percentage while the Bengals offensive line has had trouble keeping Andy Dalton out of harm's way. They're 31st in sack percentage allowed and have given up 28 in their first nine games.

Bills Number 1 Must
Prevent big plays
The Bengals are fifth in the league in passing yards per attempt (8.05) and seventh in the NFL in plays of 20 yards or more with 40. Buffalo's secondary has been victimized of late and rank 26th in pass plays of 25 yards or more allowed with 21. Cincinnati's vertical passing game is potent. If the Bills want to post a road win they can't give up anything deep.

Scouting Eye
Third down dragging
Cincinnati's offense has had its share of troubles on third down this season. They rank 28th overall, but on 3rd-and-1s in particular they rank last in the league converting just half of their opportunities, almost 20 percent below the league average (69%). On 3rd-and-long they rank 30th. The Bengals attack would prefer to stay in 3rd-and-medium situations. That's where they thrive ranking tops in the league with a 59 percent conversion rate. Outside of that it's been a major struggle.

Weak linksPart of the reason for the struggles on third down is pass protection. Andy Dalton is on pace to be sacked 50 times this season, which would be a career high. Where the protection has been compromised the most is at right tackle where second-year player Cedric Ogbuehi has had some struggles. He's allowed seven sacks and 32 QB pressures in nine games. Third-year center Russell Bodine has also had issues. He's allowed more sacks than any other center in the league according to Pro Football Focus.

Odd formationsThe Bengals offense is under a new coordinator this season after Hue Jackson left to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Ken Zampese, who previously served as Cincinnati's quarterbacks coach, has made use of some unconventional formations in an effort to confuse the opposition.

The common look they employ is three down linemen on the ball, with three or four players detached to the left or right outside the numbers and another two or three on the opposite side of the field, often in a stack look. Obviously the two detached groupings have enough players up on the line of scrimmage so the offense has the required seven players on the line for the snap.

Andy Dalton will be in the shotgun and may have a back with him depending on the grouping numbers.

Early in the season they would run a wide receiver screen to one of the widely aligned groupings. They've also run this pre-snap formation only to shift before the snap into a more conventional alignment with five lineman on the ball.

Last Monday night they ran their wide split formation more than half a dozen times and ran different plays off of it. On the first series instead of running a receiver screen, TE Tyler Eifert, who was tight to the formation released and Dalton hit him for a 71-yard pass play to set up their first touchdown.

They also ran an end around and receiver screen off similar wide split looks. It will be interesting to see how the Bills adjust and communicate against the uncommon formations.

Burfict blowing them upHe's known as one of the most intense players in the league, and all too often he steps over the line and commits ill-advised penalties. But LB Vontaze Burfict can also be a menace for opposing offenses. Monday night against the Giants was a perfect example. He was blowing up blockers when the Bengals used him as a blitzer, and he even proved himself capable at times in pass coverage, though it's not a strength. He had a season-high 11 tackles, a QB hit, forced fumble and a pass breakup.

Far from stingyThe Bengals have long relied on their strong defense, but their performance on that side of the ball has gone south on them this season. They're 24th against the run, 17th against the pass, 19th in third down defense and a pedestrian 18th in points allowed. Where they really struggle is in their own red zone. Cincinnati is allowing opponents to reach the end zone almost two-thirds of the time they crack the Bengals 20-yard line. They're giving up touchdowns more than 64 percent of the time (64.3%), which ranks 27th in the NFL.

Fast start friendlyOne other area where the Bengals have not helped their cause is at the start of games. Their defense has given up 38 points on opponent's first possessions this season. That ranks 29th in the NFL. It's kept Cincinnati from jumping out to early leads in games. Early leads have benefited the Bills in games this season because it allows them to stick with their productive rushing attack. Whether the Bengals can change that trend Sunday is a big question mark.

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the week
"We understand the circumstances, we understand that it's a must win, but it's not that we're putting pressure on ourselves and we have to go out there and play for our lives. We play our style of game, the smart way and go out there and be physical. And you can't put too much pressure onto the game, we have to go out there and be ourselves."
--QB Tyrod Taylor

Stat of the weekThe Bills have averaged 30 points per game in their last five outings.

Milestones in reachZach Brown needs 11 tackles to reach 100 on the season, which would be the first 100-tackle campaign in his career.

Brandon Tate needs 44 kick return yards to reach 5,000 for his career.

Tyrod Taylor needs 70 rushing yards to reach 1,000 as a Bill.

Final noteHalf of Buffalo's run plays this season have gained more than four yards, which is the highest percentage in the NFL.


 

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