As the Cincinnati Bengals get set to visit the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, there has to be a certain feeling that this game is not what the Bengals can overlook. The Bills were an intriguing team under rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, but when he went down to injury things got a little muddy.
This Sunday, the BIlls will be starting quarterback Thad Lewis, who was brought up from their practice squad to take the starting snaps. What does this mean for the Bengals?
Stop the run.
The Bills will likely be giving the Bengals a heavy dose of the run game, and would have even if Manuel was starting. But, with Lewis under center I can guarantee that Buffalo will try and run the ball as much as they can. Currently 3rd in the NFL averaging over 152 yards per game on the ground, Buffalo has a very, very good back field.
Both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are quality backs when healthy. That’s been the main issue as of late, as both have been a little banged up. But, as of right now, they look like they will play. Spiller is questionable but has been progressing well each day.
For the Bengals to win this game, they have got to get production from their front seven — one of the best front seven in all of football. Stopping the run game and forcing Lewis to make plays through the air will be key to this win.
On the other hand, the Bengals have got to start running the ball effectively themselves. Going against a 22nd ranked Bills run defense should help that cause. At the moment, BenJarvis Green-Ellis is still tagged as the Bengals’ starting running back. But, given due time, Giovani Bernard will have that title this season.
Bernard has ran very well for the most part, while Green-Ellis has not been as consistent. Both guys should find success against a Bills front giving up 116 rushing yards per game on the year.
Cincinnati should be able to win this game by double digits. But, they must get it done on both sides of the run game to have that shot.