Bills vs Bengals Picks, Odds: AFC Divisional Round Prediction

Bills vs Bengals Picks, Odds: AFC Divisional Round Prediction article feature image
  • The Bills host the Bengals with a trip to the AFC Championship Game on the line.
  • Buffalo is a 5.5-point favorite at FanDuel, although the spread is 6 at most sportsbooks.
  • John LanFranca makes his Bills vs. Bengals pick below.

As we examine Bills vs. Bengals odds, this matchup feels eerily similar to the game of the century played one year ago in the AFC Divisional round (Chiefs vs. Bills).

Two Super Bowl-caliber teams going head-to-head three weeks ahead of the actual big game. Now, we have to find a Bills vs. Bengals pick.

The elephant in the room is the health of Cincinnati's offensive line. Three starters with a combined 3,000 snaps played on the season will be absent from the Bengals' lineup on Sunday.

Allow me to explain why this talking point has become overblown in handicapping this showdown between Joe Burrow and Josh Allen. Cincinnati has covered eight consecutive games as an underdog, and I expect the Bengals to continue this streak since they're the clear value side of the final AFC Divisional matchup.

Bills vs Bengals Odds

Sunday, Jan. 22
3 p.m. ET
Bengals Odds
-110o / -110u
Bills Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Bills vs. Bengals Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Bills and Bengals match up statistically:

Bills vs. Bengals DVOA Breakdown
Overall DVOA44
Pass DVOA79
Rush DVOA43
Overall DVOA211
Pass DVOA212
Rush DVOA1114
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Since the Bengals’ bye in Week 10, Joe Burrow ranks outside the top 25 in both air yards per attempt and percentage of throws 20-plus yards down the field.

This may not sound like a positive, but remember, this is the offensive system they already have in place! The Bengals are ninth in pass offense DVOA over this span, scoring 26.7 points per game, and have yet to lose a game. The narrative that offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will have to make an abundance of adjustments in order to defeat Buffalo simply does not have merit.

A week ago, against a stiff Ravens defense, Burrow had only nine of his 32 passing attempts travel over ten yards down field. It was his most efficient outing versus Baltimore of the three games he played against them this season.

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One of the main reasons for Burrow’s success was an added wrinkle by the Bengals' offensive staff that allowed Ja’Marr Chase to move around the formation.

During the regular season, Chase lined up in-line or in the slot on only 21% of his snaps. In the Wild Card Round, 8-of-12 targets Chase received came when he was lined up inside the numbers, and 6-of-9 receptions came as a slot wide receiver or in-line, including his touchdown that saw him attack zone coverage in the red zone for an easy score.

Regardless of where the Bengals decide to deploy Chase, it will undoubtedly be a mismatch. Chase averages an astounding 3.56 yards per route against man coverage this season, which is good for third overall.

There is no cornerback on the Bills roster that has even the slightest glimmer of hope against Chase. Tre’Davious White ranks 65th of 123 qualifying corners in pass coverage grade, according to Pro Football Focus, while Kaiir Elam and Dane Jackson rank 59th and 80th, respectively, in the same metric.

Taron Johnson, the Buffalo's slot corner, is the best of the bunch in man coverage. He graded out as the 32nd-best coverage corner — though he does not often face the caliber of Chase on the inside. And despite Johnson being a strength for the Bills, their defense still gives up a hearty 8.6 yards per attempt to interior receivers (22nd).

Just how important was tackle Jonah Williams to Cincinnati's offense? Well, for starters, he surrendered 13 sacks to opposing pass rushers, which was most in the NFL. Williams did not rank inside the top 60 tackles in either pass blocking or run blocking grade, according to PFF.

In fact, the Bengals' other injured tackle, La’el Collins had an even worse overall grade, as he finished 79th of 82 qualifying tackles in pass block grade.

I am not overly concerned Burrow will be under a tremendous amount of pressure, as Buffalo is the least blitz-heavy team remaining in the playoffs (per Sharp Football). The liability Buffalo has at cornerback is another factor that should keep its defensive playbook rather vanilla and quite predictable against a Bengals offense well-equipped to attack their weaknesses.

Over the last seven games, these defenses have been virtually identical. The Bills have a slight edge in rush defense DVOA, placing 11th while the Bengals are 13th. Defending the pass, it’s Cincinnati with the slight edge, ranking 11th in pass defense DVOA, while Buffalo ranks 13th.

The difference will be turnovers, and it is quite clear who has the advantage there.

The Bills have turned the football over on more than 15% of their possessions this season – only one team has committed turnovers more often. Josh Allen’s 30 combined interceptions and fumbles leads the league, yet the oddsmakers continue to favor the Bills as if this trend will suddenly disappear.

Allen will always be one the league’s premier playmakers, but in a game with incredibly small margins, one mistake could swing the game.

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Betting Picks

In the Divisional Round over the last 20 years, road teams with a 70% winning percentage or greater in the regular season have covered the spread at a 65.6% rate.

Furthermore, the Bengals have thrived as underdogs since drafting Joe Burrow. The LSU product is 12-3 (80%) against the spread when his team is catching 3+ points as an underdog.

The NFL is a game of matchups, and simply put, the Bengals have the weapons to exploit the lack of consistency in the Bills secondary.

The more reliable offense is led by the quarterback who took his team to a Super Bowl one season ago. Burrow has only eight turnover worthy plays since the end of September. The Bengals' close call with a divisional rival, combined with the overstated impact of the injuries up front have inflated this line tremendously.

I am picking Cincinnati to upset Buffalo and advance to an AFC Championship rematch with the Chiefs. I’m thrilled to grab the points with the Bengals.

Check out our live NFL odds page to make sure you're getting the best number on Cincinnati. The spread had moved to most Bengals +6 at most sportsbooks.

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