By Conor Perrett
As the old saying goes, sometimes it’s better to leave the best till last.
It’s something I typically do when eating my dinner and thankfully the NFL follows suit in Week 17 because what a mouthwatering feast of football we have facing us later on Monday Night Football.
It features two Super Bowl contenders from the AFC with the Bills travelling to Cincinnati to play the Bengals. Combined their 23 wins on the season is the largest win total for two teams in a MNF game ever.
There is no doubt this is going to be a cracker of a game and read on as I’ll break it all down for you right now.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)
Power Rankings – 4th
DVOA Rankings: Offence – 5th, Defence – 14th, ST – 20th: Overall – 7th
The Bengals are still looking to wrap up the AFC North crown and they can do so with a win against the Bills. After an ugly 2-3 start to the season, the Bengals are starting to hit their stride with a 9-1 record over the past 10 games. Starting quarterback Joe Burrow has inserted himself into the MVP discussion, by throwing at least two touchdowns in his past four starts.
This Cincinnati teams showed how capable they are in big games when they made the Super Bowl last year, but they will be looking to go one step further this year. This could likely be a potential AFC Conference Championship preview as these are two of the best in football but for that to happen they would need to knock out the Chiefs, a feat both teams have already achieved this season.
The Bengals’ offence and defence has what it takes to go head on with Buffalo and they won’t want to be slowing down just before the playoffs.
Buffalo Bills (12-3)
Power Rankings – 2nd
DVOA Rankings: Offence – 3rd, Defence – 4th, ST – 7th; Overall – 1st
Bills quarterback Josh Allen is also in the MVP discussion, but needs to cut down on the turnovers and questionable decisions that have been creeping into his game. Buffalo are in the driver’s seat for the top spot in the AFC Playoffs, but they must win against Cincinnati on Monday and next week to keep the No. 1 seed and get a bye from competing on Wildcard Weekend and ensuring home advantage in the postseason.
A loss could see the Bills fall down to the third seed, which would potentially set up road games in Cincinnati and Kansas City on their path to the Super Bowl.
What’s going in Buffalo’s favour is their resurgence of their running game. As of late, the Bills’ rushing attack is starting to threaten posting teams’ defences, adding another weapon to the offence’s arsenal. It’s one thing to stop the passing attack of Allen and Stefon Diggs, but a ground team of Allen, James Cook and Devin Singletary adds even more fuel to the fire.
This game is going to be an excellent one and it feels like a coin toss to pick. With the Bills on a six-game winning streak and Bengals 9-1 in their last 10 games, its macho vs macho. Both teams are well-rounded with excellent offence and defences, with QB’s that are close to best in the league.
Cincinnati has home advantage, but the Bills’ defence could be a tough matchup for them. Buffalo’s defence usually runs zone-coverage for the majority of time, and that’s what can typically slow down the Bengals.
If Josh Allen can be a force on the ground it will add more problems to Cincinnati, as I’m going to lean toward the Bills in a shootout.
Bills 30 – 27 Bengals