The Buffalo Bills will get a hero’s welcome for their home opener in Week 3, as they enter this week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals with a 2-0 record. The game will kick off at 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 22 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. Fans in local markets can watch the game on CBS.
According to our Week 3 NFL odds, the Bills are 6-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 44 points.
As mentioned, the Bills head home after scoring two wins on the road to start the season. In an unusual twist, both road games were at MetLife Stadium, as the Bills knocked off the Jets and Giants in consecutive weeks. To be fair, Buffalo was a little fortunate in Week 1, overcoming four turnovers and a 16-0 deficit to squeak out a 17-16 win. However, the Bills were a little more convincing last week, taking care of the Giants 28-14.
The Bills now have a golden opportunity to start 3-0, which would obviously give their playoffs hopes a huge boost. Of course, the Bills also need to be careful not to look ahead to next week’s showdown with the Patriots. On the bright side, that game against the Patriots is just one of two games against playoff teams from last season Buffalo has between now and the last week of November, so the schedule sets up well for the Bills to keep rolling.
Meanwhile, the Bengals got straight-up rolled last week, losing their home opener to the 49ers 41-17. Things looked so promising for Cincinnati after they nearly knocked off the Seahawks in Week 1. But that performance didn’t carry over into Week 2 at all, as the Bengals were out-gained by over 250 yards. Of course, that performance was akin to what most expected out of the Bengals this season.
Cincinnati now has to dig themselves out of a 0-2 hole. The Bengals also play three of their next four games on the road, including rivalry games with the Steelers and Ravens. That’s not exactly a favorable schedule, as things could snowball quickly for Cincinnati if they fall to 0-3 this week.
Is it worth wondering if the Bills will go easy on Andy Dalton and company this week? After all, it was Dalton’s touchdown pass the final week of the 2017 season that sent Buffalo to the playoffs, ending their long playoff drought. The Buffalo fans may welcome Dalton with open arms, but I don’t see the Bills letting up. Buffalo took care of business against a bad Giants team last week, and I think they’ll do the same this week. It still feels a little weird, but I’ll lean toward the Bills to win and cover.
While I remember how the Bengals nearly beat the Seahawks, that game feels like an aberration because of how bad Cincinnati is at the line of scrimmage. The Bengals have a total of 59 rushing yards through two games. Even with Joe Mixon, they’re averaging just 1.8 yards per carry. On top of that, Dalton has already been sacked nine times. Surprisingly, Dalton has posted some big numbers and only thrown one interception. John Ross has finally emerged as a big-play threat and Tyler Boyd is a reliable option as well. But they still miss A.J. Green, and a lack of a running game isn’t helping.
Against Buffalo, I can see Cincinnati’s struggles at the offensive line getting in the way. The Bills have been solid against the run and have capable pass rushers who can get after Dalton. Perhaps more importantly, the Bills have a secondary that can create turnovers off errant throws. We know that Dalton has had problems with that in the past, and it’s reasonable to think it could be a problem this week if the Bengals continue to lose the battle at the line of scrimmage.
The Cincinnati defense isn’t exactly helping either. The Bengals are giving up 165 rushing yards per game. Part of that is because they were playing from behind last week. But the Cincinnati secondary is also giving up over 15 yards per pass attempt. That’s an ugly number, and most teams should be able to take advantage of that.
To be fair, the jury is still out on Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen. We shouldn’t be so quick to forget the four turnovers the Bills had in Week 1 that probably should have cost them the game. But the Bills have a serviceable running game, and the addition of John Brown and Cole Beasley have done wonders to help Allen settle down in his second season. The Buffalo offense should remain balanced enough to take some of the pressure off Allen and move the ball against a suspect Cincinnati defense.
Admittedly, I could be underestimating the Bengals after last week’s blowout loss. But if we’re being honest, the Bengals are a below-average team. If nothing else, the Bills are good enough to take care of business against below-average teams, especially at home. With a strong defense to help out, Buffalo’s offense should score enough points to win by a touchdown and cover the spread.