Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Three Keys to the Game


For the third time this season the Buffalo Bills have the opportunity to stack some wins together.

The Bills are 0-2 in their previous two attempts, but with a home matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, they’ll have a chance to change the narrative. And with some playmakers expected to be out for Buffalo, it certainly won’t be easy.

Here’s this week’s Three Keys to the Game for the matchup with the Bengals, which kicks off Sunday at 1 p.m. from Ralph Wilson Stadium:

1) A heavy does of LeSean McCoy.

Star running back LeSean McCoy is finally back in the starting lineup. After missing the last two games McCoy was itching to get back on the field and now has the chance to shine.

The former Eagles running back is still looking for that burst on to the scene moment as a member of the Bills, and facing the 12th-worst run defense in the NFL, this might be his best chance yet.

With EJ Manuel likely under center Sunday, the Bills are going to have to go to McCoy early and often. He’s going to need to be ready for a big workload.

2) Give Sammy Watkins the ball.

Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins made some ripples earlier this week when he vocalized that he was not happy with how he was being used in the Buffalo offense.

“Everybody looks at you getting zero catches, zero yards but when you look on film 90 percent of the time you’re open,” Watkins said, via Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News. “I understand that these guys are young and they need some time to trust me. Once we get that trust, it’ll be different. But for me, I need the ball at least 10 times – I need 10 targets – and I’ll be fine with however many yards I get. And that’s what I addressed in talking with my agent. We reached out to a couple people and tried to pull some strings like, ‘Hey, I need my targets. You came up to draft me and I’m not getting targets – that’s a problem. You’re making me look bad and you’re making yourself look bad. Why not make both of us look good?’ ”

I don’t have a problem with Watkins voicing his frustrations. He is one of the best wide receivers in the league and does deserve a few more balls thrown his way.

But now that he’s come out and said all of this, it’s time for Watkins to step up.

The former Clemson star is expected to also be back in the starting lineup this week, and when the ball is thrown his way he better catch it. If Watkins gets the opportunities and he doesn’t do some thing with them, eyebrows will be raised.

3) Force Bad Andy Dalton to show up.

The Bills have one of the best defenses in the NFL, but since their Week 2 loss against New England, people have seemed to forgotten that. It’s time to send a friendly reminder to the rest of the league.

Andy Dalton has been one of the top quarterbacks league-wide this year, but there’s still reason to believe that Bad Andy Dalton can still show up. He’s facing a tough front seven, there’s a chance it could be this week.

The Bengals have some great weapons in A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, so it will be a tall task.

However, this defense has what it takes to get the job done. These are the types of games where you want to see your superstars come through for you.

I think a Cold Front is coming.

Prediction: Bills win 17-14.

This will be a low-scoring affair. With Tyrod Taylor expected to be out, it’s time for EJ Manuel to shine. Manuel is going to need LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins to step up, and if they can do that, the Bills will score just enough points to win.

Expect a big day from the Bills defense as well.