Not-so-bad Bengals could be a threat

What's the difference between the Bills at 7-8 and the Bengals at 2-13? Mostly, a few injuries. Buffalo has been virtually injury-free, but Cincinnati has had numerous lineup changes because players were hurt.

When asked if he'd use the season's final game, with no position in the standings at stake, to try out young talent, Cincy head coach Dick LeBeau said, "Because of our injury situation we've had to do that anyway. We've been through a lot of adversity."

When the Bengals came to Orchard Park to play in the opening exhibition game, it was the team with high hopes for a playoff berth. But through last Sunday, it was the Bills who had an actual chance to reach the postseason.

Other than that, the teams are similar. Both are in the middle of the pack in the NFL's offensive and defensive rankings. LeBeau pointed out that the Bengals, like the Bills, have a negative turnover differential. "We've had a lot of touchdowns scored when the defense wasn't even on the field."

Of the Bills, who came off a 3-13 season in 2001, LeBeau said, "They're a team that followed the scenario we expected to.

"We think they'll want to finish this season with as many wins as they can. Certainly, that's what we want to do."

If anything, the Bengals could be the team with the advantage going into the game. They're the team whose offense has taken off, averaging more than 20 points a game over the last two months, while Buffalo's offense has gone into hibernation.

And quarterback Jon Kitna, the architect of that turnaround, pointed out, "We've been in mean-nothing games for about seven weeks now."


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