Free NFL Pick: Buffalo at Cincinnati 11-21-2010

November 17, 2010


Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday November 21, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Cincinnati -6


The 2-7 Bengals have faced a brutal stretch of opponents since the bye week hit. This will be a winnable game, before they are bombarded with the Jets, Saints, and Steelers. This week, they take on the 1-8 Buffalo Bills who finally saw a victory after flirting with it three weeks in a row. Despite having only one victory, the Bills have covered on the road three out of four times this season. The Bengals haven’t won a game since September 26th. Do they really deserve to be six point favorites against anyone?

Keys to the Game:

  • We’ve seen the Bengals put on a show numerous times through the air this season, but it isn’t equating to victories. Carson Palmer has thrown over 300 yards three times this season, including a 412 yard performance against Atlanta, and each time the Bengals have come away with a loss. The numbers look great in a box score, but what made the Bengals so great last year was their consistency in the run game.
  • Cedric Benson needs to get back to his 2009 form. In 2009, he was running like he had something to prove. After being written off due to character issues, he exploded onto the scene and became the focal point of the pass happy Bengal offense. While he is still on pace to rush for 1108 yards this season, going completely AWOL against the Colts last week is a testimony to his struggles this season. It can’t be feast or famine with Benson if the Bengals want to be successful. This week, he has a real chance to get back on track. Nobody allows more yards on the ground than the Bills, but how bad does Benson want it?
  • The Bills have held their opponent to less than 14 two out of the last three games. While the Bills have struggled on both sides of the ball this season, their 27.2 points allowed a game makes life particularly difficult. If they can continue to perform like they did against Kansas City and Detroit, they will be seeing more wins come their way. The Bills are much better against the pass than the run. They matchup well against the Bengals, but they will need to roll the coverage over to Terrell Owens if they want to be successful.
  • Teams are gearing up towards Chad Ocho Cinco and allowing Terrell Owens to completely destroy defensive backs in one on one coverage. You would think Owens posting 834 yards this season would be enough to force teams to take him seriously, but teams are covering him casually and gearing up against Ocho Cinco. While Ocho Cinco is still a threat, the Bills can’t afford to let T.O. loose. Donte Whitner and Jairus Byrd are both going to need to drop back to help out against Owens and Ocho Cinco. While the rest of the offense can’t be abandoned, this team puts up passing numbers on a regular basis.
  • Fred Jackson could be set for a big day. C.J. Spiller hasn’t done anything of significance in his rookie campaign, but his production see an even bigger set back, due to his hamstring injury that knocked him out of this game. Jackson had 133 yards in their victory over Detroit. Since the bye week, his touches have increased substantially. It seems as though the Bills have become a more balanced team. If Jackson can prove to be a consistent threat coming out of the backfield, it adds a new dimension to the Bills offense. Look for Jackson to have a lot of touches this upcoming week.

Key Matchup:

Buffalo’s wide receivers Vs. Cincinnati’s secondary

  • Steve Johnson might be a feast or famine wide receiver, but when he gets going, he puts up huge numbers. He has quickly emerged as the most productive receiver on the Bills, though Lee Evans is still the number one guy and Roscoe Parrish has had his fair share of catches this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick has a number of options to throw to and any one of the three aforementioned receivers can have a big day if they get lost in coverage.
  • The Bengals have taken a huge step backwards this season on defense, but their corners have remained in lock down mode. Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall have the ability to smother Lee Evans and Steve Johnson. They are both corners who can get in the face of a receiver and keep up step for step with the best around the league. The Bengals might be able to keep Evans and Johnson in check in this one, which puts more pressure on Fred Jackson to perform.

Wrap Up:

Neither the Bills, nor the Bengals have performed well this season. The Bengals look like they are shutting down. While they have kept it competitive, they still have lack luster performances that make them hard to put money on when it comes down to it. While T.O. is having a fantastic year, his production isn’t equating to wins.

That being said, the Bills are not a great football team. What makes them appealing is that they have been involved in close games on a regular basis. I wouldn’t be shocked if this game continues that trend, so I’m going with the Bills, who have not lost a game by more than three since before their week six bye week.

Free NFL Pick: Buffalo +6

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