On Sunday, January 22nd, the Cincinnati Bengals took on the Buffalo Bills in the AFC divisional round of the 2023 NFL playoffs.
A rematch for the ages
In the AFC divisional round, the number 2-seeded Buffalo Bills took on the number 3-seeded Cincinnati Bengals; some might have argued this game would be the most anticipated in the playoffs for the AFC because they were supposed to play in week 17 of the NFL regular season. Due to Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field from cardiac arrest, this did not happen. As we all know, this game was canceled. Had Buffalo won this game, they would have had to played Kansas City for the AFC championship at a neutral site. However, that did not occur, and they were tasked with playing the Bengals at home.
Were the Bengals expected to win?
I think this was very unexpected for Cincinnati to beat Buffalo since Buffalo had the better team with the better record. Both teams had good regular season records; the Buffalo Bills went 13-3, and the Cincinnati Bengals went 12-4. Many even doubted whether or not Cincinnati could come back after losing to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 56. They made it to the playoffs without falling apart. They did not suffer from the classic “Super Bowl Hangover” which most teams experience during the next season after losing the Super Bowl. Buffalo, who was considered the favorite in this matchup because of how good their team is, with both their offense and defense, could have succumb to bad weather. Losing this game was so unexpected because the team had been rallying for over two weeks in the spirit of Hamlin and they looked very strong going into this playoff game.
How I felt about the Cincinnati Bengals beating the Buffalo Bills
Now that I got those pending questions out of the way, I can talk about how I truly felt about this game and its many takeaways.
It’s only the first quarter, and the Bengals are lighting up the scoreboard
In the first quarter of the AFC divisional round matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, the Bengals scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, which took all of 5:25 minutes. Joe Burrow had thrown a deep middle pass from the shotgun formation to wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase for 28 yards and was completed in the first 3:20 seconds of the first quarter. This was the first of two touchdowns Burrow would throw in the first quarter. His second touchdown throw was again from the shotgun formation. But this time it was a short pass to tight end Hayden Hurst for 15 yards.
While on the other hand, the Buffalo Bills, who usually know how to get things rolling on offense, were having trouble in the first quarter. They went three and out not once, but TWICE! The score at the end of the first quarter was 14-0 Bengals.
Buffalo is trying to fight back
In the second quarter, the Buffalo Bills had finally scored a touchdown at 7:41. The play was 85 yards and took 17 plays to get to the end zone. This is an oddity for Buffalo who usually scores quickly. Buffalo’s defense really tried to come through for them by only allowing the Bengals to score a field goal, making the score at the end of the half 17-7 Bengals.
The Bengals need to soften the blow
The Bengals didn’t soften the blow at all in the third quarter. They had driven down the field with a 71 yards 17 play drive that led to Joe Mixon running it in for the touchdown, but this play had to be replayed because the first time, it had gotten reversed by the referee. It worked like a charm on the second attempt and was run in for a Bengals touchdown. But on the other hand, the Bills scored their only additional time, which was on a field goal at the end of the third quarter; the score was 24-10 Bengals
The only thing going for Buffalo is their defense
In the fourth quarter, the Buffalo Bills only really did one thing right all day long, their defense did their job, allowing Cincinnati to only score a field goal, making the score at the end of the second half 27-10 Bengals. The Bills were eliminated from the playoffs. This bummed me out! Better luck next year boys!
Takeaways from this game
After watching this game, there were many takeaways from it for both teams. For Starters, the Bengals look like Super Bowl contenders on both sides of the ball. Kansas City should be worrying about their chances of making it back to the Super Bowl since when they play Cincinnati, they are 0-3, which will; if the Bengals beat them in the AFC championship game, the Chiefs will be 0-4 against the Bengals. Another reason Kansas City should be nervous about facing Cincinnati in the AFC championship is cause the Bengals offense is considerably better than the Chiefs because Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs doesn’t look like himself after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC divisional round which of Mahomes goes down for the Chiefs they are down for, unlike the Bengals who not only have a great quarterback in Joe Burrow they have an excellent backfield with Joe Mixon and receiver room with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and others. The Bengals defense will also be helpful against the Chiefs passing game since they will have to deal with Travis Kelce and company, and if the Bengals defense can handle Buffalo and their offense, then the Bengals will be fine.
But on the other hand, questions will now be swirling amongst the Bills front office on what they will do better for next season to let what had occurred to them happen again; there will be questions about whether or not Josh Allen can get the job done for Buffalo now and will have to reevaluate what kind of player he is come to the off-season. Still, you will see this matchup before Cincinnati and Buffalo for many years to come. Still, there you have it, sports fans, my take on the 2023 AFC divisional round matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills see you next time for more around the NFL.