CINCINNATI — No additional hype is needed for the upcoming game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football.
Both teams are among the best in the NFL and are vying for the No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs, which would mean home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. In previous years, this might have been a good measuring stick for the Bengals.
But after the wave of success of the past two seasons, Cincinnati is well aware of its status.
“We beat everyone,” Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said. “We know we can play against everyone. We’ve done that in the biggest moments. Like I said, we treat every game the same. We’ve played against everyone for the past two years. “
Beginning in Week 17 of last season, Cincinnati beat the Kansas City Chiefs three times in a row, including in the AFC Championship Game last season.
Burrow, a third-year quarterback, pitted this year’s Week 17 showdown against Buffalo against last year’s Week 17 showdown against Kansas City. By beating the Chiefs in that game, the Bengals won the AFC North and clinched their first playoff spot since 2015.
“We hadn’t played the top echelon of the AFC at that time,” Burrow said. “So it was a big win for us.”
However, Burrow noted that Buffalo (12-3) is one of the teams Cincinnati (11-4) has yet to face since the Bengals turned into Super Bowl contenders. The last time Cincinnati faced Buffalo was in Week 2 of the 2019 season, which was at the start of a downturn that led to the Bengals having the league’s worst record. This presented them with the opportunity to select Burrow with the first overall pick in the 2020 draft.
Cincinnati enters Monday’s game as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. His seven-game winning streak is the longest in the AFC and just short of a franchise record.
Burrow and Bills quarterback Josh Allen has combined 78 passing and rushing touchdowns, tying the NFL record for most total by two opposing quarterbacks entering a game, study finds from ESPN Stats & Information.
Cincinnati wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs both rank in the top six in touchdowns and receiving yards the past two seasons. Chase called Monday’s game a “best of the best” reunion that will showcase the quality of a team.
“That’s what the NFL is for — the best of the best to play and give the fans what they want. Put on a show for the whole world to see,” Chase said.
Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, who hit the 1,000 yard mark for the second straight season, agreed with Burrow on Cincinnati’s self-confidence ahead of Monday’s game.
“We definitely know who we are as a team,” Higgins said. “At the end of the day, we just have to go out there and be who we are. You all know what we can do. We know what we can do. We just have to go out there and do it.”
Cincinnati’s offense will come up against a Bills secondary that Higgins says is one of the best in the NFL. The Bengals should reunite with starting tight end Hayden Hurst, coach Zac Taylor said. Hurst, who has missed the last three games with a right calf injury, was a full participant in Thursday’s practice, according to the team’s injury report.
During his weekly press conference, Burrow was asked about preseason talk that had the Bills as a hot pick to reach the Super Bowl. Caesars Sportsbook received twice as much money on Buffalo for winning the Lombardi Trophy as any other team in the league, including last year’s runner-up Cincinnati.
But then and now, Burrow cared very little about how the Bengals fared against the NFL’s best.
“The offseason is the offseason,” Burrow said. “People are going to find things to talk about. We knew the season was going to go the way it did. We knew we were going to play really well, so we weren’t too worried about that.”