My Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills prediction looks at a battle between top-tier contenders facing off for the right to play for the conference championships. We almost had a preview of this game featuring elite performers several weeks ago, but instead, we saw a different kind of elite performance that saved the life of Bills player Damar Hamlin.
So now, we finally get this matchup, and this time, the loser goes home.
My Behavior Bets sports betting model has identified value with these Bengals vs. Bills odds. The spread presents an intriguing opportunity to cash a win, as the books think this game will not be as close as the model does.
Bengals vs. Bills Odds | Divisional Round
*Odds provided by, and my personal bets placed at, Caesars Sportsbook.
Bengals vs. Bills Prediction
The Behavior Bets sports betting model went 19-5-1 on Wild Card Weekend, going up +99.5u and sporting a +160.43% ROI. For the season, the model is 176-85-7* on bets against the spread, on the moneyline, and on props.
The model had an average projected point range within five points of the actual scores. Let’s see if we can keep it going starting with this Bengals vs. Bills prediction. Make sure you also check out my full NFL playoff bracket prediction. I made it through the Wild Card round unscathed.
*Stats on the Behavior Bets model can be tracked at Pikkit, the best bet-tracking app on the market.
Let’s just say it. The Bills were lucky to escape their home playoff game against the Miami Dolphins “B” team in the Wild Card round. While I had predicted Miami would cover the spread easily, I didn’t expect Miami to have a chance to win, and they did.
Josh Allen was reckless with the football and helped a bad Miami road defense (0.993 SBPR on the road) give its depleted offense short-field opportunities to score. That won’t cut it against last year’s AFC champion.
The Bengals’ defense is seventh in the NFL in time of possession allowed on the road. Last week against the Dolphins, the Bills needed every minute of the 32 they had to put Miami away. The Bengals, on average, surrender more than three minutes fewer than that on the road.
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Part of this is because the Bengals play defense well. Since the bye week, they have only surrendered an SBPR of 1.0 or more once. In every other of the seven games they’ve played, they have held opponents under 0.8. All things being equal, this particular week, they are projected to hold their opponent to 0.625 points per minute of possession.
Of course, all things aren’t equal. They will play the Bills this week, who, despite my above gripings, are a threat to beat anyone — especially in a home environment that promises to be emotionally charged. The Bills are about as consistent as it comes on the offensive side of the ball. With a flat growth week through 18 games played, they average and are projected to have an SBR of 0.9.
The key, then, is about ball control. The Bengals will likely hold Buffalo under their SBR projection if they can get the ball away from the Bills’ offense and hold them to their season average of 29 minutes in time of possession on the road. I don’t think they hold them to a 0.6 SBR, but I think 0.75 will get the job done.
The Bills are projected to score 22 points in this Bengals vs. Bills projection.
The Bills Defense Is Getting Worse
The Bills’ defense has been getting worse all season. We can put a number on this, in fact. Over the course of 18 games played, they got worse in scoring prevention rate (SBPR) by 24%. That is to say, they gave up 24% more points per minute of opponent possession time week over week on average.
Due to early season dominance and late season games against the severely offensively challenged New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Chicago Bears (ranked 17th, 25th, and 16th in SBR this season, respectively), their season average is quite low. But the celeration trend is what we should pay attention to, and that trend is not good.
The Bills’ season SBPR average is 0.53. Due to how they have been accelerating, however, all things being equal, in this game, they are projected to give up a 40% higher SBPR of 0.75 points per minute of opponent possession time. They surrendered even higher than that to the Dolphins last week.
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But, as we said earlier, all things are not equal. They will be playing the Bengals. Cincinnati is projected to score at an SBR of 0.85 this week. Joe Burrow is not Skylar Thompson, and even with a banged-up offensive line, Burrow can put up points in a hurry. Cinci has hit their 0.85 SBR projection in 10 out of 18 games played this year.
Last week they went up against a top-two defense in the Baltimore Ravens. They only put up 17 points, but that was mostly a result of Baltimore’s ball-control strategy, limiting the Bengals’ time of possession to only 27 minutes. Had the Bengals hit their season average of over 31 minutes, as they did in Week 18, it’s likely they would have crossed over the 21-point mark on offense.
Against the Bills’ defense, this Bengals vs. Bills prediction projects Cincinnati to score 26 points.
Bengals vs. Bills Prediction
Bengals 26, Bills 22