Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview: Defense is Key for Both Teams

By Matt Ploss
Kevin Hoffman-USA Today Sports


Who wants to bet that Thaddeus Lewis and Andy Dalton will collectively throw more touchdowns than interceptions this week? Anyone? Anyone at all? Didn’t think so.

The NFL is anything but predictable, but one reasonably safe guess for Sunday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals is that it won’t be a shootout. On the one hand, you have a practice-squad veteran in Thad Lewis who has started all of one game over the course of his NFL career. On the other, you have the woefully inconsistent Andy Dalton, who is 0-2 in road games so far this season.

Both QB’s will be facing young, athletic defenses that have proven themselves to be both aggressive and opportunistic thus far in 2013. Cincinnati and Buffalo rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in pass defense so far this season and both teams are comfortably in the top 10 in terms of overall defensive efficiency.

In other words, expect plenty of turnovers when the Bills and Bengals square off at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday. In all likelihood, this game will come down to whoever manages to capitalize on said turnovers, but with Lewis and Dalton at the helms of their offenses, expect those ‘opportunity touchdowns’ to be few and far between.

Whatever offensive production does come will probably be fueled by the running game, which actually makes this a deceptively favorable matchup for the Bills. If CJ Spiller is able to suit up, there’s always the chance that he shakes off the rust and returns to his dominant 2012 form. If not, the Bills will lean on Fred Jackson, who has been surprisingly productive this season and clearly still has a lot left in the tank.

Buffalo may have a more desirable running tandem on paper, but Giovanni Bernard has flashed brilliance through the first five weeks. This game will likely come down to a few lucky (or unlucky) snaps, but there’s no question that it will be a defensive battle throughout. It probably won’t be the most fun contest to watch on Sunday, but football purists should be able to tune in and enjoy four quarters of fundamentally-sound defense and power running.

Matt Ploss is a Buffalo Bills writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewPloss, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google


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