Sunday Division Liveblog: Bengals, Bills Meet Again

Sunday Division Liveblog: Bengals, Bills Meet Again

NFL Division – It took 19 and a half weeks, but we’ve finally cut the slack on the 2022 NFL season. The bottom six teams standing are the top six teams in DVOA — all killers, no fillers. For the Jaguars and the Giants, the NFL season is over for the best. That doesn’t always happen! Gate crashes happen all the time! It is noteworthy that only the best of the best are here.

That said, we can’t have six teams going to the conference championship; that’s not how numbers work. We have two more games to go today to reach the final four — and, at least on paper, they should be more competitive than Saturday’s games. No more taking #1 seeds on underdogs; four of the top Super Bowl contenders face off today with trips to the conference championships on the line.

We won’t lie; it will be a strange atmosphere when the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals are locked out just three weeks after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field; there’s no getting through it without remembering what happened that Monday night. Losing a matchup of this caliber was far down the list of things to worry about, but it was yes It’s nice to see two of the top three teams in the conference settle things on the field. What field should it be? Well, we’ll get to that in a moment. There aren’t nearly as many strange feelings about seeing the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys locked for a ninth playoff game that has so many accomplishments, a game that was highly anticipated to be… this one. We’ll get back to that soon enough, too.

And we’ll be covering today’s games live in a special replay edition of the Football Outsiders live blog! Because we’re live, you can join the discussion too! Join the conversation — in the comments section of this article, on Twitter by tagging @FBOoutsiders or @BryKnoor on our brand new Discord server, where some of your favorite writers will be hanging out and responding live.

Here we go!

Early Game Preview: Bengals at Bills

The Bengals have one legitimate complaint and one non-legitimate complaint as they travel to Buffalo as a road team in this game.

The NFL covered events for the Chiefs-Bills AFC Championship, and they covered events for the Bengals-Ravens wild card game. They did not, however, give the Bengals any events for this game, and its location actually hinged on the outcome of the canceled Bengals-Bills game. If the Bengals had won that game, they would have had the two seed, not the Bills. This game would be in Cincinnati, not Buffalo. And the NFL has just shrugged their shoulders as they let this play go. It would be one thing if they had done that for everyone, but for the fact that the NFL bent the rules two circumstances but not through a little awkward, at best. The Bengals are being penalized for doing the right thing and not forcing Buffalo to play or surrender the week 17 game. No Alot punishment, mind you; the home field advantage is not what it used to be. But they can at least claim a little righteous umbrage for having to go to New York.

They can’t cry foul over the NFL already preselling tickets in Atlanta for the Bills-Chiefs game, no matter what Joe Mixon thinks. They were pre-selling Arrowhead tickets for Chiefs-Bengals, and tickets in Cincinnati for Bengals-Jaguars. That’s just a logistical thing.

In our stat preview, Cale Clinton asks the $64,000 question — will Josh Allen avoid mistakes against Cincinnati? As he points out, Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in all of football … but also one prone to the occasional embarrassing blunder; clutch interceptions in the red zone that kill the Bills. Allen is simultaneously the biggest reason Buffalo can win…and the biggest reason Buffalo can lose. Either way, be prepared for offensive fireworks. But public opinion seems to be leaning toward the Bills, with the line falling to Buffalo -6 before game time.

Late Game Preview: Cowboys at 49ers

Well, that’s more like it! The Cowboys we saw against the Buccaneers were the team we expected to see; the one that can match any other team in the league and is a true Super Bowl threat. We haven’t seen that team week in and week out, as Dallas fans worried about their chances against the best teams against the Packers, Giants, Texans, Jaguars and Chiefs over the back half of the season on even trips. the league. But against Tampa, Dallas controlled the game from start to finish. Dak Prescott looked untouchable, avoiding the comments that have been a millstone around his neck since returning from injury, and led Dallas to its fourth-best passing day of the entire season at DVOA. They looked like they could beat anyone.

To move forward, however, they have to the team that was the in the third place– the best passing day of the entire season by DVOA last week, when Brock Purdy and the 49ers turned a close game at halftime into a stunning victory over the Seahawks. Say what you will about Purdy’s results compared to his quality of play; The 49ers barely missed a beat despite being down until their third quarterback of the season. San Francisco is riding an 11-game winning streak and has looked more or less unstoppable throughout the back half of the season.

If the Cowboys play to their potential, they can win this game outright, even as a four-point underdog. As our stat preview shows, Dallas is equipped to attack the 49ers’ weakness in deep pass coverage and Purdy’s penchant for scrambling away from pressure. We will see if the Dallas team is the one to really show up this evening, or if San Francisco will make a dozen straight wins and punch their ticket to Philadelphia.

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