The Cincinnati Bengals will lock and load against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. In another must-win matchup, both teams are looking to stay alive.
Week 11 brings a familiar scenario to Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals have to win. It was the same theme against the Cowboys and rang true with the Redskins. When the Buffalo Bills ride into the Queen City on Sunday afternoon, things will be just as the Bengals like it. They’ll have a pressure-filled game on the menu.
Sitting in third place isn’t where Bengals fans envisioned this team, after nine games. But, due to inept play calling, subpar coaching, and paper thin adjustments, it is what it is. Sunday’s battle with the Bills will prove a lot about where the Bengals truly stand.
Both teams are actually still in the hunt for postseason contention. But, there’s no room for error. Did someone say error as in penalties? Seriously, the Bengals and Bills are going to be in an all-out battle to keep pace in their divisions. Yet, the edge has to go to the Bengals. Here are a few reasons.
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Staying Alive In The AFC North
To keep pace with the mighty Baltimore Ravens (one game over .500), the Bengals have to take Sunday’s game seriously. For some reason, Cincinnati has come out strong on its opening possession and then goes flat. The trend has to end sooner or later. Buffalo is no powerhouse but they’re no slouch either.
Offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is under pressure. The AFC North is a division that has a history of solid running backs and hardcore defenses. When the cold weather hits, it’s time to break out the ground game and ball control. In Week 10, the Bengals’ running game was lackluster. Part of the inability to run against the Giants was their defense. New York is currently ranked seventh. But, Zampese must also learn to feed Jeremy Hill the rock more often.
In a bounceback game of this caliber, Zampese will have a point to prove also. This is his first year guiding the offense. After a poor showing of 78 yards against the G-Men, this will be his opportunity to pound the ball. The Bills are ranked No. 15 against the run.
Keep The Streak Going
This will be a revenge match of sorts. Last year, the Bengals went to New Era Field and clobbered the Bills 34-21. Tyrod Taylor will be under center for Buffalo. Paul Guenther will have a chance to prove his players and scheme can shut Taylor down.
In 2013, Andy Dalton and Co. engineered a 27-24 OT victory on the Bills’ home turf. Going back to the inception of the Dalton-Green era, in 2011, the Bengals beat Buffalo at PBS 23-20. The Red Rifle outlasted Ryan Fitzpatrick in a close game. A.J. Green began his career with 118 yards against the Buffalo secondary.
Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan recently asked Marvin Lewis to rest Green for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. In last year’s matchup, Green was held to 36 yards. But that led to former Bengal Marvin Jones torching the Bills for 95 yards and a TD. Ryan noticed that A.J. was limping during some crucial moments of Monday Night Football.
"“I saw where he was hobbled a little bit. I think Marvin should rest him this week and that would be my advice to Marvin. He’s not really asking me, but just, friend to friend.”"
The last three battles have been close. Winning another titanic struggle with Buffalo could turn the tide.
Another Losing Record
This is not a knock against the Bills. But, it is a knock against the Bengals. Marvelous Marvin has to get his act going with this game. Sitting at 4-5, Buffalo is another team with a losing record. To this point, Cincinnati has dominated every team under the .500 mark. This game should be no different. Once again, it’s desperation time.
The problem comes with Bengals’ players being flat and unprepared for must-win games. With an insane home crowd cheering them on, this should be a victory for the Stripes. But, if the coaching staff looks beyond Week 11 to Baltimore, the Bengals could be staring at a 3-6-1 mark and sudden death in the playoff round.