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Cincinnati survived the AFC gauntlet last 12 months en path to a surprise Super Bowl bid, but Joe Burrow and co. find themselves as road underdogs on Sunday against a hungry Bills team seeking to exorcise its divisional-round demons after last 12 months’s devastating loss in Kansas City.
Here’s how we’re betting Sunday’s contest, which kicks off at 3 p.m. ET on CBS.
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Bills vs. Bengals pick
Bills vs. Bengals prediction and evaluation
Look, there are myriad ways to interrupt down this matchup, which profiles as the most effective of the whole season on paper. But there’s just one thing that seemingly everyone seems to be talking about: the Bengals’ offensive line.
It’s a key reason why this line has moved two points since opening at Bills -3.5 on Sunday night, and it’s a legitimate concern for a team all too acquainted with issues up front. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time: after 15 weeks with the identical offensive line combination, Cincinnati enters this weekend without starting tackles La’el Collins (ACL) and Jonah Williams (kneecap) or starting guard Alex Cappa (ankle).
Obviously, that’s an issue. But is it every little thing it’s made out to be? The Bengals’ offensive line was in shambles even when healthy last 12 months, and Burrow still managed to slice up opposing defenses with a fast trigger and a discerning eye for when to take a sack and when to let it rip.
We saw that play out oh-so-briefly when these teams met in Week 16 – which got here after Collins’ injury, mind you – because the Bengals marched up and down the sector against a Bills defense that couldn’t generate a pass rush. That’s been Buffalo’s bugaboo for years and continues to be the case after losing Von Miller (ACL) earlier this season.
Even without that transient glimpse in Week 17, you possibly can argue that Cincinnati is definitely the higher team heading into Sunday, offensive line issues aside. While the Bills rank first in DVOA this season, the Bengals rank fifth against a much tougher schedule, they usually’ve outscored teams by nine points per game – one of the best mark within the conference – across their AFC-best nine-game win streak.
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There are countless questions that can ultimately define Sunday’s matchups: can Josh Allen limit turnovers against this opportunistic Cincinnati defense? Can the Bengals handle Allen within the run game? Will Stefon Diggs or Ja’Marr Chase exploit favorable matchups with a game-changing play or two?
In theory, a matchup with this many variables between two similarly elite squads can be priced like one. As a substitute, the entire deal with Cincy’s offensive line woes – bad as they could be – has propped up Buffalo as a heavy favorite.
When you feel that one aspect is sufficient to justify it, go ahead and pay the value. You only could also be right. Personally, I’m grabbing the points on a Bengals squad that may go toe-to-toe with the Bills and still has the ingredients for an outright win.
Bills vs. Bengals odds (via BetMGM)
- Bills -5.5 (-110), moneyline -250
- Bengals +5.5 (-110), moneyline +200
- O/U 49 (-110)