Updated: Jun 28
The playoffs aren’t a kind place, especially for the Bills. It is where flaws that do not present themselves in the regular season all of a sudden manifest at the worst possible time. As a Bills season that truly seemed like a realistic time for a title run comes to an end, I take a look at what exactly went wrong for Buffalo against the Bengals.
Simple Physical Mismatches Allowed The Bengals’ Offense To Flourish
Taking a look at the trenches, particularly the interior, it was obvious that the Bills were simply outmatched in terms of raw size. Especially against a Bengals line that has been far from the NFL’s best this season, the issues with the Bills’ defensive line were obvious.
There’s no doubt that the Bills were hampered. Injuries to Micah Hyde and Von Miller were clearly harmful. In the case of Miller, they were missing a guy who could have made a big different in the pass rush and possibly could have made life harder for Burrow.
The problems were beyond just one player, however, as the entire game was full of open passing lanes and sufficient running gaps for the Bengals’ offense. They took full advantage, having a whopping 30 first downs, which were almost completely evenly split between run and pass. The Bills only forced one sack, got no takeaways and only forced two Bengals punts in the entire game.
All of these stat lines seem familiar, because this season, that’s what the Bills have been doing to their opponents most of the times. The Bengals provided a challenge, both in terms of physicality and skill, on the offensive side of the ball that the Bills haven’t faced all season. If the Bills want to, moving forward, beat teams like this when they’re in peak form, they will need to not just get healthy on defense, but also add size and explosiveness to their front seven.
The Bills Got One-Dimensional At The Wrong Time
Before the postseason, I had discussed the need for the Buffalo to have more of a balanced attack to beat the best. Today, they didn’t and it cost them massively. While the Bengals got 14 first downs from passing, they added another 13 from the running. Buffalo actually had the same number of passing firsts, but could only cross the sticks four times with the run.
When Josh Allen is the center of Buffalo’s offensive attack axis, good things tend to happen… to a point. In this game, it didn’t manifest in a good way. Allen had 42 pass attempts to just 19 rushes, eight of which were Allen’s. In total, Allen accounted for 82% of Buffalo’s offensive plays.
Naturally, when such a thing happens, and the Bills can’t get defenses to respect their running game, it becomes harder to find open receivers, and as a result, the Bills couldn’t get enough done on the passing end either, and scored the lowest point total they have had since November of 2021. Improvement here will involve changes on the interior offensive line, a better-than-sensible running back, and improved play-calling.
What’s Next For Buffalo?
The fact that two Bills team as successful and talented as the two most recent ones have lost in the divisional round is somewhat alarming. In the big moments, either offensive, defensively, or like today, both, the Bills have failed to find their highest level.
However, there’s no big reason for concern. The Bills have good coaching, a true franchise quarterback, and plenty of youth, which is an excellent combination for a team looking to win a title. They will, however, need to keep buy-in for their stars heading into next year, improve in the trenches and at running back, and find a new scheme that is more befitting of a playoff-level balanced attack.
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