Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills
Sunday, November 4th, 2007
by Crazy Snake of Predictem.com
Any game involving Cincinnati is unlikely to be low scoring while they boast offensive weapons such as Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzadeh. But scoring points has rarely been the Bengals’ problem. Having lost 3 of their past 4 games, one doesn’t have to look too far to find the culprit. Defensively, the Bengals are 31st ranked against the pass and 28th against the rush, 3rd for total points allowed from only 7 games and 2nd for points allowed per game. That spells trouble for any team wanting to win a championship of any kind and so it has proved for the cellar dwellers of the AFC North. Having lost their must win game against the Steelers in the always hotly contested division, it now remains to be seen if they can firstly, salvage some pride, and thereafter make a late run at what still remains a mathematical playoff possibility.
In order to get that ship on course they will first have to defeat a team that is headed in an unexpected and entirely opposite direction. The Bills have won 3 of their past 4, and if not for a last gasp 1 point loss to Denver from the boot of Jason Elam in their season opener, and a heartbreaking 1 point loss to Dallas on the big Monday night stage, they would be a solid 5-2 wild card prospective, though they have been perennial bridesmaids to the powerful New England outfit in the AFC East for many years. Despite their 3-4 record their recent form has suggested they are anything but also-rans and they have the game and the players to make some noise. J P Losman took the first half of last season to find form but he threw some delightful long passes late in the season and made the Bills look very dangerous through the air. With speedy receivers such as Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish the Bills passing attack looks capable of putting up points in bunches on any given day. The addition of the capable Marshawn Lynch to the rushing attack has added dimension to their offensive capabilities, and although he has not risen to the heights of fellow rookie, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, he is still a strong and talented runner that can improve the effectiveness of the Bill’s play action attacks. The last thing the Bengals need is to be on the back foot in coverage because their rookie corner back, Leon Hall is already struggling with deep pass coverage on double movement routes. J P Losman has a strong arm and any momentary lapses on the part of the Bengals’ pass coverage will see them chasing a deficit pretty early in proceedings.
The Bills’ defense is average and apart from one blowout against the Pats has looked capable enough. They allow 19 points per game, slightly below the league average, so they are on a par with most. Against an above average offense in Cincy, they could be expected to give up a few points, but look capable to scoring freely themselves by the same token, although their game against the Jets last week was hardly what anyone would call a scoring frenzy. The Bills are ranked equal 2nd in the league in defensive interceptions and this is a clue to their strength on defense. However, against the likes of tall and physical wide outs such as Chad Johnson and especially TJ Houshmanzadeh, Youboty and McGee will definitely have their hands full in coverage. TJ has scored a TD in every game so far this season and with his height advantage looms likely to do so again, especially when served by the league’s 4th ranked passer in terms of total yards, Carson Palmer. The Bills will need to win their share of the line of scrimmage battles to contain the scoring potential of an electric aerial attack, but with an NFL 29th ranked 8 sacks for the season, that seems less likely.
This is a pretty difficult game to line up, and with the sportsbooks lines set to “pick ’em” it would seem that nobody really knows how this is likely to play out. The money line has moved slightly away from Cincinnati during the week but they are still very marginal favourites. That is likely to change by game day, but in which direction is anyone’s guess. The Bengals are 0-3 on the road, and given the Bills suprising form and the Bengals’ poor defense, I will lean with the home team. The Bengals have scored an average 29 points per game and allowed an average 32 points per game, and given the mismatches in pass coverage on both sides I will lean with the over, which is currently set to a slightly above NFL average (around 41 points per game) 43 points.
The Snake’s Bite: Take the Buffalo Bills to cover as the underdog.