Buffalo Bills quarterback Thad Lewis will make his second career start on Sunday afternoon against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Week Six of the NFL.
The Bills plucked Lewis off the practice squad after learning rookie E.J. Manuel will be sidelined with a knee injury for several weeks. Some have questioned head coach Dour Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s decision, but so far Lewis is performing well in practice.
"I was blown away when I first started talking to (Lewis after Manuel was hurt)," Hackett said according to NFL .com. "I started asking him all these questions, and he knew the answers. I said, 'How'd you know all this stuff? He said, 'Well, coach, this is my job. I'm learning it just like I'm the starter.'"
Undrafted out of Duke two years ago, Lewis’s other start came last year with Cleveland, a 24-10 loss to Pittsburgh in which he went 22-for-32 for 204 yards, one touchdown, and one pick.
Lewis will face a Bengals squad coming off their biggest win of the season so far, a 13-6 slugfest with previously undefeated New England. The Bengals defense held top Patriots quarterback Tom Brady without a touchdown pass for the first time since 2009, and sacked him four times and hit him another eight.
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Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton also failed to throw a touchdown, but went an accurate 20-for-27 for 212 yards and an interception. The Bengals rushers of Gio Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis guided the offense with 125 of the team’s 162 net rushing yards. Green-Ellis scored the game’s only touchdown on a one-yard run, his third score of the season.
With the Bengals both rushing the ball and shutting down top passers, Lewis would have a difficult time on Sunday if it weren’t for running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The pair have combined for 605 yards and five touchdowns, and Buffalo has the third best rushing game in the NFL.
Last week Jackson had two scores and gained 53 yards on 17 carries, but Buffalo gave up 20 unanswered points in a 37-24 loss to Cleveland.
Ranked 22nd against the rush and 18th on the pass, the Bills defense will miss defensive back Ron Brooks due to a foot ailment, while fellow d-back Stephon Gilmore is listed as questionable.
Cincinnati also picked up a few knocks against New England, with defensive end Michael Johnson and cornerback Leon Hall both listed as questionable against the Bills. Johnson is recovering from a concussion, while Hall has a strained hamstring but practiced fully on Friday.
Coverage of the game starts at 1 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by CBS, or watch a live online stream by purchasing NFL Game Access here.
Betting Odds: Cincinnati is favored by 7 points.
Over/Under: 41.5 points.
Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Buffalo 17