Skip to main content

Top Storylines

Presented by

Top 5 storylines to follow for Bills at Bengals | Week 17


The AFC East belongs to Buffalo, but the work isn't done yet. The Bills have two important games ahead of them before the playoffs begin. 

Here are five storylines to follow ahead of Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

1. The race to first place

While the Bills have won the AFC East for the last three years, they're trying to do something that hasn't been done during Sean McDermott's time as the head coach in Buffalo. The No. 1 seed is what the Bills are after, and it's within reach. The last time the Bills owned that spot was 1993.

For Buffalo to secure home field advantage through the playoffs, the must win their final two games of the regular season. Another way to clinch the No. 1 seed is with a win against the Bengals and a Kansas City loss to the Broncos on Sunday.

NFL Network's Jason McCourty thinks the Bills have what it takes to be the team atop the AFC.

"This team is so good when they're playing," McCourty said on Good Morning Football. "Love to watch Josh Allen. He's running over people. He's jumping over people. Defensively, they create takeaways. They shut the run down this week after giving up a ton versus Miami and Raheem Mostert and the crew. So, this Buffalo team, they're Super Bowl bound if they can take care of the football and they don't beat themselves."

2. Two of the hottest teams on display

The Bills are riding a six-game win streak, and the Bengals are riding a seven-game win streak. They currently hold two of the top three longest win streaks in the NFL next to the 49ers. Talk about two of the NFL's best teams who both have the looks of a long playoff run being on display on MNF.

The Bills are averaging 28 points per game (4th in the NFL) and 402.3 total yards per game (2nd), while the Bengals are averaging 26.07 points per game (6th) and 367.4 total yards per game (7th). On defense, Buffalo is allowing 17.53 points per game (2nd) and 317.7 total yards per game (7th), while Cincinnati is allowing 20.4 points per game (9th) and 332.2 total yards per game (13th).

Besides the QBs, one reason why both offenses are so talented is because of their wide receivers. Both teams have a 1,000-yard receiver in Stefon Diggs (1,325 receiving yards) and Tee Higgins (1,022). Jamarr Chase could also reach the 1,000-yard mark against the Bills with a game of at least 40 receiving yards.

NFL Network's Mike Giardi thinks an important aspect of this game will be shutting down each team's best receivers. When previewing the game, Giardi mentioned while Tre'Davious White's play is improving, he's most interested in seeing how a taller rookie corner in Kaiir Elam does against Cincinnati's tall and strong receiving corps.

"I look at Kaiir Elam, their first-round pick who has been a healthy scratch a couple times this year," Giardi said on NFL Network. "He has been playing lately, he's 6'2. This is kind of what you draft a guy like this for to be able to get in someone's face like Tee Higgins. He's a press corner too.

"So, get in his face and eliminate some of those plays down field that the Bengals seem to make at least one or two of every week against smaller corners. He's that kind of guy that can make a play. So, I'm really curious because obviously the Bills defense has been very good all year long, but this is probably their sharpest and fiercest test to date."

It'll be the fourth time in Buffalo's history that both the Bills and the opposing team have at least 11 wins in the regular season at the time of the game. If Buffalo beats Cincinnati, their seven-game win streak will be the fourth in team history and first since 1990.

With a win, the Bills would also have seven wins in non-Sunday games this season, which would be the most by any NFL team since the Frankfort Yellow Jackets had seven in 1929.

3. Josh Allen vs. Logan Wilson

Josh Allen will face off against his former teammate and current Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson on Monday. Allen and Wilson played together in college at Wyoming and overlapped from 2015 to 2017. 

Since Wilson knows Allen's playing style, he's trying to avoid one thing. The LB told Kay Adams on Fan Duel’s Up & Adams that he would like to avoid being hurdled.

"He's been known to hurdle some guys," Wilson told Adams. "He's a freak athlete, truthfully. And he'll also run you over, so you got to worry about everything that he's going to do with the ball in his hands."

Allen has had a couple epic hurdles this season. We'll see if he tries to target his former teammate on MNF. Wilson leads his team with 79 solo tackles and 115 total tackles.

4. Two of the AFC's Pro Bowl QBs set to face off

Josh Allen vs. Joe Burrow. What NFL fan doesn't love this matchup? Two powerful quarterbacks and their high-flying offenses going at it against two top ten defenses.

Allen has the sixth most passing yards (4,029) and is tied for the second most total touchdowns (39) so far this season. Burrow has the second most passing yards (4,260) and is tied with Allen for the second most total touchdowns (39).

"There's nothing like this Bengals offense," NFL Network Analyst Marc Ross said on NFL Network. "I love this crew. Joe Burrow is just a surgeon, especially when he has time. And all those playmakers are big time playmakers, and they can just win games on their own. So that versatility and talent that the Bengals offense has is just hard to match and hard to stop."

If there's anyone that can match Burrow's production, it's Allen. Those two quarterbacks operate at a level that many dream to reach.

Allen is the only NFL quarterback with at least 135 passing touchdowns (135) and 35 rushing touchdowns (38) in his first five seasons. The Wyoming product is also on pace to have back-to-back seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards and 750 rushing yards. Allen needs just four rushing yards and would be the only quarterback to do so in NFL history.

5. Will the run game continue to roll?

The Bills rushed for a season-high 254 yards against the Bears on Christmas Eve. It was Buffalo's highest rush total since they put up 272 against the Dolphins in 2016.

Running back Devin Singletary totaled 106 rushing yards and averaged 8.83 yards per carry. It was Singletary's third career game with at least 100 rushing yards. Running back James Cook picked up 99 rushing yards and averaged 9 yards per attempt. It was a career-high game for the rookie.

"It hurts to pass block in the cold," NFL Network's Jamie Erdahl said of Saturday’s cold game on Good Morning Football. "It hurts to catch it right in the numbers. Run the ball, hand it off, and that's what they did. Devin Singletary looked great. James Cook looked great."

It can definitely be easier to run the ball in the cold weather rather than relying on the passing game. We've heard Sean McDermott say many times that the Bills offense is at its best when it's using the running game to open up the passing game and vice versa.

We will see if that's the case for Monday. Right now, weather reports are showing temperatures much higher than Buffalo's Week 16 game in the freezing cold. According to, Monday night's low will be around 51 degrees. There's a 60% chance of rain and winds at 10 to 15 miles per hour.

Related Content