Bills travel to jungle to face Bengals

Fred Jackson will be counted on against a stingy Bengals' defence. Photo courtesy of buffalobills.com (CM1_2828–nfl_medium_540_360)

Everything seems to be a little upside down in the NFL these days.

Cleveland, Detroit, and Oakland all call themselves division leaders. Someone other than the Indianapolis Colts is leading the AFC South, thanks to the Houston Texans.

But possibly the biggest shock is the emergence of the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo has a perfect 3-0 record to lead the AFC, the highest scoring offence in the league, and a comeback 34-31 victory in Week 3 over their divisional foes, the New England Patriots.

Few could have predicted that combination of feats.

Now, the Bills have a golden opportunity to go 4-0 for the first time since 2008, and the media has taken notice.

Head Coach Chan Gailey is happy his hard-working squad has done well, but has let his players know the risks.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Gailey, at his weekly press conference. “If you play great you get [the media spotlight], but you got to learn how to handle it. If you can’t handle it, it won’t be around long.”

Buffalo is undeniably being carried by its outstanding offence. They will certainly be needed this Sunday in Cincinnati (1-2).

Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 369 yards in last week’s improbable comeback, but that was against a Pats defence that is ranked dead last against the pass. 

The Bills now travel to Cincy, where a young defence shows few weaknesses, ranking third overall, fifth against the pass and seventh against the run. 

“Good front seven,” said running back Fred Jackson. “It will be a good test for us, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Jackson is fourth in the league with 303 yards rushing, and he will have to search hard for holes in this stringy defence.

Defensively, the Bills will be facing a promising duo in quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver AJ Green. The second and first round picks, respectively, have shown a promising chemistry through three games.

Add in the gifted tight end Jermaine Gresham and proven-vet Cedric Benson carrying the ball, and the Bills will have their hands full.

The last time the Bengals beat the Bills was 1988, when Boomer Esiason led Cincinnati to a 21-10 win to advance to Super Bowl XXIII. Bills fans are hoping the 23-year streak continues this Sunday.

What to watch for on offence: It is likely cornerback Leon Hall shuts down Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. What Bills wide out will win his matchup and make a big impact?

What to watch for on defence: After forcing four Tom Brady interceptions, can the Bills defence get rookie Andy Dalton to make enough mistakes?

Last Meeting: Ryan Fitzpatrick threw four touchdown passes in Week 11 last year to lead the Bills to a huge 49-31 comeback victory in Cincinnati. Stevie Johnson caught three of the touchdown passes to start a two-game winning streak for the Bills, who improved to 2-8.

Toronto Observer Prediction: Bills 23, Bengals 16.