Photo: Rich Barnes - USA TODAY Sports

What to watch for in Bills vs. Bengals

Starters playing into the third quarter, Andy Dalton and Tyler Boyd are just some of the stories to watch for Sunday

August 24, 2018 - 5:18 pm

Derek Kramer

The Buffalo Bills play the Cincinnati Bengals in the team's third preseason game on Sunday. The third preseason game is usually the one that most people will pay attention to as the starters typically play for, at least, one half of the game across the league. However, this game has more intrigue, thanks in part to the Bengals, a team that helped the Bills break a 17-year playoff drought last year.

Here are a few things to pay attention to:

  • Allen with the starters

The quarterback competition took a turn after last week's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. It now has become a two-man race between Nathan Peterman and rookie Josh Allen.

Allen, the seventh overall pick in this past NFL Draft, is getting the start in, what is seen as, the closest thing to a normal game. All eyes will be on Allen and how he performs against the Bengals defense. This is Allen's chance to claim the starting job as his on Sunday. This will be his first chance to fire passes to the likes of Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Clay and LeSean McCoy in extended action (he had one drive with Benjamin last week), as well as have the protection from the more consistent first offensive line. 

While Allen gets to work with the first team, he'll also face a fairly talented Bengals defense featuring talent like defensive linemen Geno Atkins, Carl Lawson and Carlos Dunlap, linebacker Vontaez Burfict and defensive backs Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard. The Bengals were stellar against the pass last year, eighth in the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns allowed and 41 sacks. Allen will have his hands full, but if he strings together another solid performance against a good defense, it may not matter what Peterman does following him up. 

  • The heroes of the drought come to Buffalo 

Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd. A play that will be embedded into the minds of Bills fans for generations, and yet the Bills didn't play in that game. However, they needed that play in order to be vaulted into the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

Bills fans became grateful for Dalton and Boyd, donating money to each player's charity foundations as a thank you for breaking what was the longest active playoff drought in all of sports at the time. 

Dalton and Boyd will likely get a warm reception from Bills fans at New Era Field on Sunday, including the possibility of a tribute video for the two players after the donations from Bills fans. 

  • Fixing the run defense

One week after getting gashed by the Browns on the ground, the Bills defense would like to bounce back and show their fans that they have solved some of those woes from last year. Rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds has looked tentative at times, but still shows plenty of promise. The starting defense has been solid through two games against the pass, but up and down against the run. With solid talent in Joe Mixon and Giovanni Bernard in the Cincinnati backfield, the Bills will be tested once again, and hopefully make a statement in this game that the run defense has been fixed.

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