Two of the hottest teams in the NFL will meet on Monday Night Football when the Buffalo Bills face the Cincinnati Bengals on the road to close out play in Week 17 of the 2022 season.
The Bengals have won seven in a row and are attempting to become the first team since 2018 to open with two straight losses and still win its division. The Bills, champions of the AFC East, have won six in a row. As one TV analyst described the matchup: “It’s this week’s game of the year.”
The Bills are listed as a favorite ranging from 1 point to 1.5 on the odds boards at DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and PointsBet in the first meeting between star QBs Joe Burrow of Cincinnati and Josh Allen of Buffalo.
Bills vs. Bengals Betting Lines: Point Spread, Totals, Moneyline
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Where the Bills and Bengals Stand Heading Into Week 17
The Bills (12-3 straight up/7-7-1 against the spread), who haven’t been the top seed in the playoffs in 39 years, entered the penultimate week of this season atop the AFC board thanks to its head-to-head tiebreaker with Kansas City, which also is 12-3.
Cincinnati (11-4 SU/a league-best 12-3 ATS) currently has the third seed, but a victory here and one at home next week versus Baltimore would assure the Bengals of at least the AFC’s No. 2 playoff slot. And if the Chiefs were to lose one of their final two games (home versus Denver, at Las Vegas), a 13-4 Cincinnati team would secure the top spot by virtue of its victory against KC in Week 13.
Last season, the Bengals were the No. 4 AFC seed at 10-7 and advanced to the Super Bowl.
The Bills have been overpowering this season, giving a league-high five teams their most lopsided loss of the season, including last week’s 35-13 win over Chicago. Buffalo buried five teams last year, too, capped off by its 47-17 rout of New England in the wild-card round. If Buffalo is to give Cincinnati its worst defeat, it will have to win by 20 points.
Cincinnati hasn’t been as overwhelming, playing very hot and very cold in spurts. The past two weeks are perfect examples.
In last Saturday’s game at New England, the Bengals grabbed a 22-0 lead at New England and appeared on the way to a rout. But then came a pick-six before they managed to hang on to a 22-18 lead when the Patriots lost a fumble at the Cincinnati 5 in the final minute. A week earlier, the Bengals fell behind host Tampa Bay 17-0 but then roared back with 34 straight points in a 34-23 triumph.
Against Buffalo, though, Cincinnati likely will need to be full steam ahead all game.
Offensively, the Bills have thrived with QB Josh Allen working with WRs Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, with those two combining for 17 TDs and 27 plays of 20 yards or more. Allen’s 32 TD passes are third-most in the league, but two fewer than Burrow has thrown.
Then last week, the running game came through with its most productive game in six years, totaling 254 yards with team rushing leader Devin Singletary getting 106 and James Cook 99. And that was achieved with the anchor of the offensive line, veteran center Mitch Morse, out with a concussion.
Overall, the Bills’ season norm of 5.3 a carry is tied for the best in the NFL. By comparison, the Bengals’ norm is 3.9, which puts them 29th on the chart.
The secondary, though, could be Buffalo’s weakness, especially against a Cincinnati receiving corps that will have a height and weight advantage. Tee Higgins, at 6-foot-4, 219 pounds, is a particularly big threat and leads the team with 1,022 receiving yards. And RB Joe Mixon, 6-1, 220, not only heads the team in rushing but has 55 receptions.
Bills vs. Bengals Injuries
Trey Hendrickson, who had 17.5 sacks last year including the postseason but only six this year, has a broken wrist and has been playing with a cast. That surely has had a negative impact on him throwing aside blockers. And Sam Hubbard, who has a team-high 6.5 sacks, is dealing with a calf injury that kept him out last week. The rest of the team has 13.5 sacks this season. That’s incredibly low.
On offense, star right tackle La’el Collins suffered a major knee injury last week and is out for the season. That’s not good news for Burrow, who has been sacked 39 times, tied for fifth-most in the league.
These teams measure up equally on many fronts, with both yielding 28 TDs on defense and scoring 47 on offense.
What might help tip the scales in Buffalo’s favor is Cincinnati’s injury trouble at defensive end.
But in this game, anything can happen. As good as the two QBs are, they also rank No. 1 and No. 2 in throwing interceptions on snaps in enemy territory and killing drives; Burrow has nine and Allen eight.
Forecast: Bills 28, Bengals 21