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The Cincinnati Bengals have one of, if not the best trio of wide receivers in the NFL with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.

The three prolific pass catchers totaled 205 receptions, 2,693 yards and 20 touchdowns. How the Buffalo Bills defense executes their game plan to slow them down could end up determining the outcome of Monday Night Football and potentially the not. 1 seed in the AFC.

What does Boyd think about the Bills defense?

“It’s kind of basic. They don’t use a lot of disguise – it’s kind of straightforward, they don’t do all the tricks that we’ve seen a lot on defenses,” he told Cincinnati reporters in front of his locker. “But again, man, they’re kidding us. Each team prepares differently for us. I mean, we prepare for everything. However they want to play, we’re ready for the exotic looks to the regular looks or (if) you want to try to hide coverage, we’re really up for it.

The Bills defense has long been praised for its ability to confuse opposing quarterbacks with how it operates pre-snap. In 2019, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick explained why Buffalo was so tough to play, and started with All Pro safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde.

“Sometimes they give you fake keys and start one way and then go the other way,” he said. So, as a quarterback or manager, even if you’re looking at the game and you see something and you think that’s it and your eyes go somewhere else, but then it starts one way and then it goes somewhere else and then you read wrong. They do a good job at these things, whether it’s blitz, playing man cover, playing different zone coverage and different responsibilities in zones.

Hyde’s season ended in September when he suffered a neck injury that required surgery. There is some hope within the fanbase that the 31-year-old could return this season, but there are likely still a lot of hurdles he would have to overcome to make that dream a reality. With Hyde out, the Bills handed the job to second-year safety Damar Hamlin, who has been learning on the job.

Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said ahead of last week’s game that he noticed a significant jump for Hamlin in the previous three or four games.

“The biggest jump was their confidence in being able to communicate,” he said. “We’ve relied on Micah and Jordan for so long to communicate on the back end with the rest of our secondaries and linebackers and to help Tremaine. Well, losing Micah, we lost some of that. And Jordan has been in and out of the lineup at times. We needed Damar to step up verbally, and he started to do that. This is great for our pass defense and also for our running defense.”

With Hyde out and Tre’Davious White still working his way back to the All-Pro form fans remember before suffering a torn ACL in 2021, the Bills secondary has struggled to generate turnovers over the last two months. The only interception the Buffalo defense has had in its last six games was picked by backup Jaquan Johnson on a Nathan Peterman Hail Mary on the final play in the Bills’ 35-13 win over the Chicago Bears last week.

Boyd also weighed in on the Bills’ secondary.

“I think they play well together, but (they’re) not the best we’ve seen,” he said. “But they play together and will play hard because this is one of the most important games for both sides. We’ll get the best out of them for sure. And I feel like we can win our fights.”

Boyd thinks the game will be a must-see on TV.

“I think this is going to be the game of the year,” he said. “If you lose this game, then you are not a real football viewer, or whatever you want to call it. I think it’s going to be electrifying and by far the best game of the year.”


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