Bills Will Stomp Bengals In AFC Divisional Round Sunday

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I’m harkening back to my preseason priors for this Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills AFC Divisional Round matchup Sunday at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

It wasn’t a hot take but the Bills were my pick to win the Super Bowl. I’m iffy on that now because there have been speed bumps along the way mostly due to turnovers.

Bills QB Josh Allen‘s turnover woes nearly cost them last week. Buffalo squeaked past the Miami Dolphins 34-31 in the AFC Wild Card round.

The Bengals had a scare of their own, beating the Baltimore Ravens 24-17 last week in a game much closer than the final score suggests.

Baltimore Ravens QB Tyler Huntley fumbles the ball that is recovered by Cincinnati Bengals DE Sam Hubbard to score a 98-yard TD in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Baltimore Ravens QB Tyler Huntley fumbles the ball that is recovered by Cincinnati Bengals DE Sam Hubbard to score a 98-yard TD in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

However, I’ll lay the points with Buffalo here for a variety of reasons. First, most of the market is betting on the Bengals, according to VSIN, and public ‘dogs gets slaughtered by the sportsbooks.

Also, NFL talking heads are saying Cincinnati looked like the better team when they met in the Week 17 game cancelled after the Damar Hamlin incident.

That has to be the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard. Bengals-Bills part I was stopped after nine minutes of game time. Sure, Cincinnati was ahead 7-3 but who cares?

There are crazy comebacks in football all the time. Using nine minutes of game time from the abbreviated Bengals-Bills Week 17 game is lazy and stupid.

Bengals-Bills Betting Board (DraftKings Sportsbook)

  • Moneyline: Bengals (+220), Bills (-260)
  • Against the spread (ATS): Bengals +5.5 (-110), BILLS -5.5 (-110)
  • Total โ€” 48.5 โ€” Over: -110, Under: -110

The Bills win in the trenches

The Bengals have cluster injuries on their offensive line. Bengals LT Jonah Williams and RG Alex Cappa are doubtful for Sunday and RT La’el Collins is on IR.

Cincy’s offensive line improved this season but Joe Burrow was sacked an NFL-high 70 times in the regular season and playoffs combined in 2021. The Titans sacked Burrow nine times in the 2022 AFC Divisional round.

Ravens OLB Odafe Oweh sacks Bengals QB Joe Burrow in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Ravens OLB Odafe Oweh sacks Bengals QB Joe Burrow in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Buffalo OLB Von Miller is on IR as well and that hurts their pass rush. But, Buffalo coach Sean McDermott and DC Leslie Frazier are defensive masterminds.

The Bills schemed up pressure just fine in recent seasons without big-name pass rushers. They should have a field day against this Bengals offensive line missing three starters.

Furthermore, the Bills rank higher in three of ESPN’s four “metrics to measure performance in the trenches” such as pass rush, run stopping, and pass blocking win rates.

Fading ‘recency bias’

Based on all the NFL Wild Card round recap I’ve consumed, it feels like the media is more critical of Buffalo’s performance than Cincinnati’s. Both teams played against backup quarterbacks.

Also, I’d argue the final scores of both the Bills’ and Bengals’ wild card games are misleading. Meaning Buffalo manhandled Miami on the box score while Cincy got out-played in the stats by Baltimore.

The Bills jumped out to a 17-0 lead, out-gained the Dolphins 5.9-3.3 in yards per play and converted nine more first downs (25-16). Miami scored 17 points off three Bills turnovers including a defensive TD.

The Bengals got past the Ravens last week thanks to a Sam Hubbard 98-yard fumble return TD when Baltimore QB Tyler Huntley tried extending the ball over the goal line for a go-ahead TD.

Baltimore out-gained Cincinnati 5.5-4.3 in yards per play and the Ravens converted nine more first downs than the Bengals (25-16).

The bottom line is if you remove the score, the Bills were for more efficient last week than the Bengals. And that’s true for the entire season too.

Buffalo is better by the numbers

The quarterback battle is a stalemate. Burrow seems to have more of the It factor whereas Allen is an all-world athlete with a cannon attached to his shoulder.

Football Outsiders ranks the Bills second in opponent-adjusted offensive efficiency (DVOA) and first in both defensive DVOA and special teams DVOA.

Bills QB Josh Allen celebrates with WR Stefon Diggs after a Diggs' TD vs. the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Bills QB Josh Allen celebrates with WR Stefon Diggs after a Diggs’ TD vs. the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Buffalo has a +1.1 in net yards per play and Cincy is even. The Bills have a +1.44 net points per play (nPPP) and the Bengals are +0.80 in nYPP. Buffalo has better net third-down and red zone conversion rates.

These edges alone could support the Bills laying -6.5 in this matchup. Buffalo were 2.5-point favorites over Cincinnati on the opener for their Week 17 meeting.

If we do the 5-point flip rule for home-field advantage, which could be as a high as six points, then the Bills could easily TD favorites here. As crazy as it sounds, Buffalo ATS at the current price is still a good deal.

BET: Bills -5.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -6

The Buffalo Bills' odds vs. the Cincinnati Bengals from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday, Jan. 20th at 2 a.m. ET.
The Buffalo Bills’ odds vs. the Cincinnati Bengals from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday, Jan. 20th at 2 a.m. ET.

PS Player Prop: Bills WR Gabriel Davis anytime touchdown (+150)

This is more of a gut-feeling bet on a “good number” so feel free to pass. And I definitely recommend going lighter on this wager if you make it than the Bills ATS.

That said, Cincinnati’s outside cornerbacks are subpar and Davis is going to get a good matchup. Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades Bengals CB Eli Apple 109th out 120 charted CBs.

Their other starting outside CB, rookie Cam Taylor-Britt, grades out 93rd by PFF. Cincy slot CB Mike Hilton ranks 19th by PFF but if he’s relocated it’ll most likely be to help with Stefon Diggs.

Buffalo Bills WR Gabriel Davis scores a 19-yard TD vs. the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
Buffalo Bills WR Gabriel Davis scores a 19-yard TD vs. the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Davis has seven receiving TDs this season and has scored a TD in three straight playoff games. He caught four TD passes vs. the Chiefs in last year’s AFC Divisional round.

The Bengals have so much to focus on defensively that maybe Davis slips through the cracks. Cincy needs to worry about Allen scrambling, Diggs tearing apart the secondary, and Bills TE Dawson Knox has been on a heater.

BET: Bills WR Gabriel Davis anytime touchdown (+150) at DraftKings

Buffalo Bills WR Gabriel Davis anytime TD scorer from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday, Jan. 20th at 2:30 a.m. ET.
Buffalo Bills WR Gabriel Davis anytime TD scorer from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday, Jan. 20th at 2:30 a.m. ET.

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Written by Geoff Clark

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