The Buffalo Bills (12-3) will visit the Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) in their upcoming Week 17 game.
Even with it being a massive AFC showdown ahead of the postseason, it will still be the games, within the game, that will make all the difference.
Here are three key matchups to watch during Monday’s Bills-Bengals matchup:
OL Dion Dawkins vs. DE Trey Hendrickson
Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson (91) Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Coming off the edge on the blindside of quarterback Josh Allen, Hendrickson does only have six sacks on the year. That trails Sam Hubbard (6.5) for the Bengals’ team lead, who has been limited in practice all week.
However, Pro Football Focus still pegs Hendrickson as someone who is very productive. He’s the NFL’s 15th best edge defender, according to their metrics.
The Bills paid Dawkins the big bucks to not allow a guy like that to break open a game.
DE Greg Rousseau vs. OL Isaiah Prince
Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau (50) Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Rousseau has had a great run of form since the departure of Von Miller from the lineup. Rousseau has seven sacks, one behind Miller’s eight.
But this matchup is all about Prince. He’s going to be the surprise starter at tackle, according to Bengals Wire. La’el Collins is going to be out for the remainder of the year due to an ACL injury which he sustained last week.
Rousseau has to give him a rude welcoming.
LB Tremaine Edmunds vs. RB Joe Mixon
Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Likewise to last week, Edmunds has to be a huge part in the plan of shutting down an opponent’s rushing attack. However, he won’t be alone in doing so.
Additionally, it’s for the exact opposite reason this time.
Against the Chicago Bears, the Bills had to shut down the rushing ability of QB Justin Fields because that was their bread and butter. The Bengals have quarterback Joe Burrow slinging the ball to a great group of playmakers including receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Buffalo should expect Cincy to make some plays in the air, but hopefully they can be limited.
If the Bills don’t slow down Mixon and the running game? That will be a brutal recipe.