Why secondary is major concern for Bills against Bengals
Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White. Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Why secondary is major concern for Bills against Bengals

In their wild-card win Sunday, the Bills clamped down on Miami Dolphins rookie QB Skylar Thompson, who threw for only 220 yards and was intercepted twice. But Buffalo still has major questions on defense.

The pass defense isn't at 100%, and the Bengals are coming to town for a divisional-round showdown Sunday. Cincinnati has the best wide receiver trio in the NFL in Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd and perhaps the league's best young QB in Joe Burrow.  

The secondary must hold up for the Bills to advance to the AFC title game, probably against the Chiefs, who are heavily favored to beat Jacksonville. Per OddsChecker, the Bills are a 4.5-point favorite against Cincinnati.

Buffalo's second-ranked scoring defense is missing safeties Micah Hyde (neck) and Damar Hamlin, who is recovering after suffering cardiac arrest following a tackle against the Bengals on Jan. 2. Hyde and Hamlin have combined for 91 tackles.   

Buffalo is also missing pass-rusher Von Miller, who is out for the season with a torn ACL

A major burden on the defense could fall to cornerback Tre'Davious White, who isn't the same player he was prior to a 2021 ACL injury. 

Per Pro Football Reference, White gave up a career-high 13.6 yards per completion in the regular season. In six regular-season games, he had a decent 75.8 passer rating. However, it's a major drop-off from his 2019 first-team All-Pro performance in which he allowed a 43.3 passer rating and had six interceptions and no TD passes allowed. 

If White is off his game Sunday, Chase could burn Buffalo like this.

White is still capable of making plays even when defenders beat him vertically, as he did here against Miami's Jaylen Waddle.

If the Bills defense holds up, standout rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam could be the reason. He's a tall, athletic playmaker who has a nose for the football. 

In the regular season, Elam had two interceptions and four pass breakups. In a secondary of technicians, he's the best athlete and playmaker. 

Against Burrow, the Bills need the entire secondary to be on top of its game.

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