By Jerry Sullivan
Sunday's loss to the Bengals didn't do much for the Buffalo Bills' defensive ranking. By allowing 483 yards to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bills dropped into a tie for 26th in the NFL with an average yield of 395.0 yards. That ties them Washington, which managed to outgain Dallas by two-to-one Sunday in a 31-16 loss.
The Bills are currently 28th in the league against the run, giving up 124.2 yards a contest. That's actually a lot better than a year ago, when they allowed 145.8 yards a game on the ground and finished 31st on the season.
Look a little closer and it seems even better. The Bills are holding opponents to 3.9 yards a rush, which is 14th in the NFL. A year ago, they allowed 5 yards a carry, so the average rush against has gone down by a little more than a yard. The overall numbers are skewed by the fact that the offense plays at a swift pace and the defense is on the field for more plays.
The pass defense has actually been a bigger problem -- as was evident in the loss to the Bengals. The Bills are 22nd in passing yards against, but they're giving up too many big plays. The average per catch by their opponents is a hefty 13.3 yards. Only two teams have allowed a larger average per catch through six weeks -- the Ravens at 13.8 and the Broncos at 14.1.
The Bills have given up 24 pass plays of 20 yards or more, tied for 28th in the league. They allowed four such passing plays to Cincinnati. Chicago has allowed 29 pass plays of 20 or more. Denver has given up far and away the most 20-plus passes with 35.
That's why I have a hard time believing the Broncos can go unbeaten.