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Scouting Report - Week 5 - Bills-Bengals


Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Charles Clay vs. Shawn Williams
Buffalo's top passing target is a mismatch for the box safety. Cincinnati will need to scheme up ways to account for Clay in Buffalo's passing attack or he could have another big day.

2 – Jerry Hughes vs. Cedric OgbuehiOgbuehi hasn't been nearly as consistent as former left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who signed with the Rams in free agency. Hughes' motor has been running hot and the Bengals will likely need to take extra measures to keep Buffalo's top pass rusher under wraps.

3 - Richie Incognito vs. Geno AtkinsThe Bengals' perennial Pro Bowl defensive tackle is a game wrecker on the defensive interior. He leads Cincinnati in sacks early in the season and must be doubled on just about every play. Incognito will likely team with Eric Wood to account for him.

Check out photos of memorable Bills versus Bengals games through the years.

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Red zone defense
Buffalo has been very stingy when opponents get inside their 20-yard line this season. They've allowed just one passing touchdown in four weeks and just four touchdowns total on 11 possessions. Cincinnati's offense is converting less than a 50-percent success rate.

Best advantage – Pass rushThe Bills are not among the league leaders in sacks, but they are near the top when it comes to generating pressure overall. Through four games Buffalo has logged 25 quarterback hits along with their 11 sacks and that pressure has been instrumental in forcing turnovers.

Bills Number 1 Must
Finish early
In most cases this season the Bills have been playing from behind. At no point have they been down my more than six points thanks to their stout defense, but a quick start on offense would be a welcome sight. Buffalo has yet to score any points in the first quarter. That has to end in Cincinnati in what is expected to be a low-scoring affair.

Scouting Eye
Pass protection issues
The Bengals have yet to recover from the loss of veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth (L.A. Rams) or guard Kevin Zeitler (Cleveland) to free agency. As a result their pass protection is not what it used to be. Cincinnati has surrendered 14 sacks in four games along with 16 quarterback hits. That means that almost once in every four of Andy Dalton's drop backs he's been under pressure and hurried in trying to deliver the football.

Quick completionsTo alleviate the pressure on Dalton, new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who took over in Week 3 after Ken Zampese was fired, has implemented a quick three-step drop pass game to get the ball out before the pass rush arrives. Dalton has flourished with that approach the past two games completing more than 80 percent of his pass attempts (80.7%) with six touchdowns and no interceptions.

Top 3 defenseThe Bengals may have had problems scoring the first two weeks of the season, but holding opponents down hasn't been an issue. Cincinnati's defense ranks in the top three in a host of categories including total defense where they rank third in the NFL.

Marvin Lewis' defensive unit also sits third in points allowed, third against the pass, third in sacks and third in yards per pass attempt. Additionally, the Bengals defense leads the league in the highest percentage of three and outs forced. So far this season they've forced opposing offenses three and out more than 38 percent of the time (38.3%, 18/47).

Run downCincinnati's ground attack hasn't had the same starch it's possessed in previous years. Though rookie Joe Mixon is a talented addition, who is seeing more and more playing time, the Bengals have been unable to hit the century mark in rushing yards in three of their first four games. They're averaging just 3.3 yards per carry and just over 88 yards per game. Mixon leads the carry load over Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard by a count of 52 to 25 to 18.

First down successIf there's one area where the Bengals are successful on both sides of the ball it's first down. Cincinnati ranks in the top five in both first down yards per play average on offense and defense.

The Bengals offense ranks fifth in the league in first down offense with an average gain of 6.45 yards. That's more than a yard over the league average (5.38). Meanwhile their defense ranks fourth in the NFL in average yardage allowed on first down. Cincinnati is giving up just under 4.4 yards per play on first down (4.39).

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the week
"I've been a part of teams that have started 6-2 and not make the playoffs. It can happen and turn on you quickly. And I think that happens when guys lose focus or start reading the press clippings, start making everything become routine and not being committed instead of trying to figure out ways I can get better and really dissecting their own game."
LB Lorenzo Alexander

Stat of the weekBuffalo has allowed the fewest points in the first four games (54) since 1999 when they finished with the league's number one ranked defense.

Milestones in reachStephen Hauschka (11) is one 50-yard plus field goal away from tying the NFL record for most consecutive 50-yard plus field goals (12).

Jerry Hughes needs one sack for 40 in his career.

With a win this week, Sean McDermott will become the first Bills coach in franchise history to win four of his first five games in charge of the team.

Final Note
The Bills lead the league in fewest points allowed in the second half this season with a total of just 19 scored on them. The Bengals offense is 31st in the league for points scored in the second half with just 16.

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