NFL PLAYOFFS:Bills host Bengals in playoffs 3 weeks after game canceled

CINCINNATI (13-4) at BUFFALO (14-3)

Sunday, 3 p.m. EST, CBS


AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bengals 13-4; Buffalo 8-9.

SERIES RECORD: Bills lead 17-15.

LAST MEETING: Bills beat Bengals 21-17 on Sept. 22, 2019, in Buffalo. (Game on Jan. 2, 2023, canceled by the NFL with Bengals leading 7-3 in the first quarter after Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated on the field.)

LAST WEEK: Bengals beat Ravens 24-17; Bills beat Dolphins 34-31.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Bengals plus-6; Bills even.

BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Ja’Marr Chase is still showing he can catch almost any pass Joe Burrow gets in his vicinity. The second-year wideout led the Bengals with nine catches for 84 yards and a touchdown last week. He had eight catches for 86 yards and a TD in a win over the Ravens the previous week in the regular-season finale. Chase had 1,046 receiving yards despite missing four games with a hip injury.

BILLS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Josh Allen. The fifth-year starter is just as capable of throwing multiple touchdowns and committing multiple giveaways, as happened in a sloppy outing last weekend when Allen threw three TD passes, two interceptions and had his fumble returned for a touchdown. Allen has now thrown 38 TDs, 16 interceptions (six of them inside an opponent’s 20) and lost six fumbles in 17 starts this season.

KEY MATCHUP: Bills secondary versus Bengals WRs. The Bills secondary is young and dealing with injuries, while facing a potent Burrow-led passing attack. Starting CB Tre’Davious White has been eased back in after missing a year because of a knee injury, and has appeared in seven games — the past five in which he’s played a majority of the defensive snaps. CB Dane Jackson’s status is uncertain after hurting his knee last weekend, leaving the possibility of rookie Kaiir Elam taking over. Starting S Jordan Poyer is playing through a series of injuries. And Buffalo is down to its third safety opposite Poyer, with Micah Hyde (neck) not ready to return and Hamlin on IR.

INJURIES: Bengals LT Jonah Williams (dislocated kneecap) left Sunday’s game in the second quarter last week and is questionable for Sunday’s game. He was not at practice Wednesday. … Bills CB Jackson was limited in practice on Wednesday. … WR Isaiah McKenzie resumed practicing after missing last week with a hamstring injury. … DT Jordan Phillips’ status is uncertain after missing one game with a shoulder injury.

SERIES NOTES: The Bengals are 2-0 against Buffalo in the postseason, with both games played in Cincinnati. The Bengals beat the Bills 28-21 in a 1981 season division-round game with now TV broadcaster Cris Collinsworth scoring the go-ahead TD, and 21-10 in the AFC championship game in the 1988 season. … Buffalo followed the 1988 postseason loss to win 10 consecutive regular-season meetings. … The Bengals have won four of the past six.

STATS AND STUFF: The Bills celebrated the Bengals closing their 2017 season with a win over Baltimore that was decided on Andy Dalton’s 49-yard TD pass to Tyler Boyd with 44 seconds remaining. The Ravens’ loss coupled with Buffalo’s win at Miami earlier in the day vaulted the Bills into the playoffs to end the franchise’s 17-year postseason drought. … When Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley fumbled while trying to score from the Cincinnati 1 last week, DE Sam Hubbard grabbed the ball and rumbled 98 yards the other way for a go-ahead TD — the longest fumble return for a score in NFL postseason history. … Burrow passed for 209 yards, his fewest since he threw for 200 in the Dec. 18 win over Tampa Bay. … Cincinnati is missing three starting offensive linemen. RT La’el Collins (torn ACL) went out Dec. 24, RG Alex Cappa (ankle) was lost Jan. 8 and Williams went down last week. Hakeem Adeniji, Max Scharping and Jackson Carman are expected to start in their places against Buffalo. … The Bengals have won nine straight and not lost since Halloween. … Cincinnati, which lost to the Rams in the Super Bowl last season, has reached the division round in consecutive seasons for the first time in team history. … The Bills are 13-1 at home in the playoffs, with their lone loss against Jacksonville in the wild-card round of the 1996 season in what became Buffalo Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s final game. … The Bills are 4-0 at home in the postseason since coach Sean McDermott took over in 2017, and 4-4 overall in making their fifth playoff appearance in six years. … Should the Bills and top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs win this weekend,, the AFC championship game would be played at Atlanta. The NFL went with the possibility of a neutral site because the Bills finished a half-game behind the Chiefs in the regular-season standings after Buffalo’s game at Cincinnati was canceled. Had the Bills and Chiefs finished tied, Buffalo had the tiebreaker edge after beating Kansas City in October. … The Bills and Chiefs are the NFL’s only two teams to be making their third straight appearance in the divisional round. … The Bills have won eight straight, matching their longest run since 2020, when they closed the season 6-0 and won two playoff games. … In seven playoff appearances, Allen has 2,070 yards passing and 17 TDs. His 104.6 passer rating ranks third among players with 150 or more attempts, behind KC’s Patrick Mahomes (105.7) and Green Bay’s Bart Starr (104.8). … With 492 yards receiving in six playoff games with Buffalo, WR Stefon Diggs moved into fourth on the team’s postseason list, and is 106 yards from tying Hall of Famer James Lofton. … TE Dawson Knox has scored in five straight games going back to the regular season. It’s the third-longest streak among TEs behind Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski, who each had six-game runs. … All-Pro LB Matt Milano had two of Buffalo’s four sacks last weekend, including the first of his career in a playoff game. … S Dean Marlow had his first career playoff interception last weekend, while making his second start in place of Hamlin.


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