Game Scout: Bengals at Bills

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-3)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y. TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots, Boomer Esiason
*Keys to the game: Cincinnati stripped apart the New England offense and Tom Brady, which could cause tremors in Buffalo, where Thad Lewis was promoted from the practice squad to make his second career start in EJ Manuel's stead. If ever there was a week to force-feed C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, the time is now. Each averages at least four yards per carry. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's history, though, is that he schools one-dimensional offenses. Lewis hasn't had much time to get on the same page with his offensive line or front-line receivers. The Bengals' offense is no juggernaut. The Bills, third in the NFL with 18 sacks, are hopeful CB Stephon Gilmore can play and FS Jairus Byrd can return to fortify a thin secondary. That opens alleys for WR A.J. Green, who has been double-teamed relentlessly this season. With defenders sagging, the Bengals' most effective first punch is intermediate throws to RB Giovani Bernard and TE Jermaine Gresham.
*Matchup to watch - Bills defensive line vs. Bengals offensive line -- The Bills may be getting quality reinforcements in the secondary Sunday, but Gilmore and Byrd are aided by pressure - if they in fact make their season debuts. Dalton's tendency is to get an itchy trigger finger when he senses a shrinking pocket.
*Player spotlight - Bills LB Kiko Alonso: He's tied for the league lead in interceptions with four and was just named NFL defensive rookie of the month for September for his tenacious effort and range.
*Fast facts: Lewis is the Bills' 12th starting quarterback since Jim Kelly's retirement in 1996. ... Dalton has a 37-to-1 career TD-to-INT ratio in the red zone.
The Bills will have opportunities for takeaways and if Thad Lewis avoids losing the ball on Buffalo's side of the field, the Bills have the running game to stick around. Cincinnati can suffocate with its pass rush and strong secondary, and will throw haymakers hoping to put Buffalo away early.
*Our pick: Bengals 27-12

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