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Playoff Preview: Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills

Mark Morales-Smith Jan 19th 10:20 AM EST.

This is the game everybody will be looking forward to watching this weekend. Two of the heaviest hitters in the superior AFC Conference finally face off when the Cincinnati Bengals (3) go on the road to take on the Buffalo Bills (2). This game is sure to be packed with emotion and controversy. We all remember the last time these teams played in Week 17 Damar Hamlin went down with a life-threatening injury and the game was canceled. He is now doing much better and we will get to see this game play out. A game that may have been in Cincinnati if not for the stoppage of the last matchup.

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Both of these teams had a surprisingly tough time getting through the Wild Card Round against short-handed teams. The Bills barely snuck by the Miami Dolphins led by their third-string quarterback with some help from a few late calls from the refs, and the Bengals barely got past the Ravens with Tyler Huntley under center thanks to a Ravens goal-line turnover that went the other way for six to lock up the win for Cincy. It will be interesting to see how these teams rebound off last week and the emotion of the past three weeks this weekend.

The Bills have a high-powered passing attack, however, their most dangerous weapon may be the legs of Josh Allen. If the Bengals want to win this game they will have to account for him. Cincy has a top-seven rush defense, but Allen is a different animal and difficult to contain. Then of course on the outside, you have Stefon Diggs who can beat you by himself. He’s one of the top wideouts in the league and Allen’s favorite target. The rest of the offense is actually very average, but those two alone are more than most defenses can handle.

On the other side of the ball, the Bengals have surrounded star quarterback Joe Burrow with an incredible bounty of weapons. At running back he has Joe Mixon to hand the ball off to who is a star in his own right. Nevertheless, at wideout he has Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd to throw the ball to. You can make the case that this is the best wide receiver group in the league. This is an explosive down-field passing attack and it will need to be against a tough Bills defense.

The Bills’ defense ranks sixth in yards and second in points against this season. However, they did just allow Skylar Thompson" data-toggle="modal" data-target="#player-pop-up" href="/nfl_player_news/Skylar_Thompson/">Skylar Thompson to drop 31 on them and it could have been more if not for some easy drops. Despite the gaudy numbers, the Bills can be beaten on defense.  This will be a huge test for this defense that we aren’t so sure is up to the task. We actually have more faith in the Bengals defense that has been playing better as of late and may have the easier matchup in this one.

The Picks:

Spread: Bengals +5 (-105)

Over/Under: Over 48.5 (-105)

Moneyline: Bengals (+200)

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Player Props of the Night

Prop #1: Tyler Boyd, Over 35.5 Receiving Yards (-120)

We like this line for Tyler Boyd in this matchup. It’s a number that he could hit with just one play as he’s done a handful of times this season already and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t see at least four or five targets in this game. With the Bills having to pay so much attention to Chase and Higgins, Boyd will get free a few times as we saw last time these teams played. Despite the stats not being counted Boyd did catch a TD to start the scoring last time these teams played. He also averaged over 47 receiving yards per game this season.

According to our NFL Over/Under Prop Bet Rankings tool, Boyd has only hit his over of receiving yard 33% of the time this season. However, when the Bengals are the underdogs that number jumps to 50%. This is because the Bengals will have to throw it more and good defenses will be able to slow down the stars and Burrow will have to hit his third option more.

Prop #2: Josh Allen, Under 44.5 Rushing Yards (+110)

This will be tough for Allen to hit coming off a 20-yard rushing performance. He hasn’t hit this number in his last three games and the Bengals are tough against running quarterbacks. They allowed the third-fewest rushing yards to QBs this season with just 194 on the year. That’s in a division with a handful of running backs who are very capable runners. They will likely focus on Allen and be able to bottle him on the ground as long as they can avoid the one big gash play.

Prop #3: Dawson Knox Anytime TD (+185)

Don’t overthink this one. After a slow start to the season, Knox has become a key piece of the Bills’ offense down the stretch. Over the past five games he has seen 27 targets and caught a TD in every game. He will continue to see looks in the end zone and he’s given us no reason to believe he won’t continue to take advantage of them.

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