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Bob Angelo

Thoughts On The Game
  • Writer's pictureBob Angelo

Divisional Round: Bengals vs Bills

We’ve all heard the late-season NFL cliché: “DEE-fense wins championships.”

Sorry, points win championships. The team that scores the most points wins 100 per cent of the time. That’s why this game’s outcome really does not seem hard to predict.

Cincinnati played in Super Bowl LVII (57) last year, where they lost to the L-A Rams. Buffalo lost to Kansas City in overtime in the divisional round. Otherwise, Cincinnati would have taken on Buffalo for the right to play in last year’s Super Bowl.

Both teams possess great young quarterbacks and pass catchers. In 2022, Buffalo won 13 regular season games, Cincinnati 12. Their Week 17 game was suspended with the Bengals leading 7-3. Both teams barely survived their Wild Card playoff games.

This Sunday’s contest will take place in Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium, where the Bills have won 8 of 9 games this season. If Buffals quarterback Josh Allen can avoid unforced errors, the Bills will beat the Bengals and advance to the title game.

A friend and fellow football person once told me: “Brett Favre keeps both teams in the game.” Which means he’ll throw three touchdown passes only to follow them with ill-advised, errant tosses or mishandled footballs, resulting in easy interceptions, fumbles and short fields for Packers opponents.

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen sometimes reminds me of Favre.

Last week in Buffalo, Allen threw two picks and fumbled in his own red zone leading to directly and indirectly to 18 of Miami’s 31 total points. Subtract those out and the Bills win easily.

Did Miami’s defense create last week’s turnovers? Yes, and no.

Allen threw the interceptions, and his careless ball handling made it simple for Miami’s pass rush to force the scoop and score fumble TD. Miami’s alert defenders got credit for the turnovers, but Allen’s carelessness allowed them to occur.

Where’s the line? Who scored the points? Good questions. Allen deserves partial credit. He clearly thought the intercepted balls would find his receivers. Or did he? He sure as hell needed to be more careful on his pass drop near his own goal line. As I said, he plays like Favre sometimes.

The next day, a similar event proved to be the turning point for Cincinnati against the Baltimore Ravens. And this one was an even better example of points winning championships.

After playing horribly on an 8-play, 80-yard Ravens offensive possession, Cincinnati’s defense braced for a goal-line stand. That’s when Baltimore’s backup quarterback Tyler Huntley leaped over the line of scrimmage while extending the football in one hand, trying to break the plane of the goal line. Tom Brady used to do this right!

The Bengals easily knocked the ball loose, and defensive end Sam Hubbard recovered the fumble and ran virtually unmolested for a 98-yard go-ahead score that broke the Ravens’ spirit.

Did “DEE-fense really win, or did a young quarterback make a serious mistake, making a battered Bengals defense look good? This was a classic 14-point swing, something which successful playoff teams never allow to occur. The Ravens screwed up.

Buffalo’s defense kept the Bills in numerous games down the stretch this season. It ranked second in the NFL in fewest points allowed per game during the regular season. Teams must earn their points against Leslie Frazier’s defense. But Miami’s players get paid, too. And its offense predictably cashed in on short fields left behind for them by Josh Allen mistakes. The scoop and score was even easier.

If Buffalo’s’ offense (aka Josh Allen) protects the football this Sunday and forces Cincinnati to drive the length of the field, I don’t think 1) the Bengals pass blockers will hold up, and/or 2) the Bengals running backs can get the job done.

All of which means that at game’s end, Buffalo will have scored more points than its defense will allow. Yes, DEE-fenses play a part in winning championships, but how and why points show up on the scoreboard matters much more.

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