The NFL schedule is set up as a series of 16 tests for each team. The Bills have passed all 3 so far this year. In the opener they proved they could go on the road and win to start the season against what was a playoff team a year ago. (The fact that the Chiefs are horrible wasn’t known before the game). Week two the test was coming back home against a physical Raiders team and prove them could line up and win. (Falling behind 21-3 was not part of the game plan). Week 3 was a major exam for Buffalo. Could they beat the Patriots? Plain and simple that was the test for week three and they somehow found a way to get to the right answer, but I don’t think they want to show the teacher the work that got them to the last line. (Down 21 zip , needing 4 interceptions and having to make a field goal at the buzzer). In week four, the test is right in front of them. Can they go on the road, after two spectacular weeks, and avoid a letdown by beating an inferior opponent?
Chan Gailey has his hands full this week. No matter how many times he says he doesn’t think this team is going to look past an opponent or take anything for granted it has to be a real concern. All week the Bills are the toast of the NFL, from the Sports Illustrated cover to ESPN, the Bills are the flavor of the week. The Bengals are seeing all of this too. For the first time in years, beating the Bills actually means something other than a single win to another team. The Bills go into Cincy as the hunted not the hunters and they better be ready.
The key for Gailey is having a guy like Ryan Fitzpatrick run the show. Fitz handles everything on such an even keel that I think he has spread that attitude to the young guys on this roster. But that is about attitude. The other reality is that the Bengals can actually play a little defense, though it is a little inflated because of the weak offenses they have faced so far this year. The Bengals plan is going to be to play as physical as possible against the Bills and to try to control the ball when they have it to keep Buffalo’s offense on the sidelines.
I said earlier this week that I did not have the guts to pick the Bills to win against New England, but I was happy to be wrong. This week I think it’s not going to be as exciting as it has been through the first 3 touchdown filled Sundays. I expect this one to be more of a grind it out, get the win on the road Sunday. This game will show a lot about this Bills team. It's easy to get fired up to play at home, especially against team's like the Patriots. But to go on the road against a struggling team, coming off two emotional wins and win on the road will tell me this team has arrived.
(Mike’s season record 2-1)