Examining the Bengals' 2015 road opponents: Bills


CINCINNATI -- The start of the 2015 season is still five months away, but that doesn't mean we can't begin breaking down the Cincinnati Bengals' schedule.

The NFL's official schedule hasn't been released yet, so we won't know the official kickoff times and dates until later this month. But we do know who they will be playing and where.

We have been examining each of those opponents in this really early series. We continue with the Buffalo Bills:

2014 record: 9-7

2014 finish: Didn't make playoffs; finished second in AFC East

Key losses: LB Keith Rivers, DB Da'Norris Searcy, TE Lee Smith, RB C.J. Spiller

Key additions: RB Charles Clay, WR Percy Harvin, RB Jerome Felton, RB LeSean McCoy

Series history: Bengals trail, 13-15 (includes two playoff wins).

Last time vs. Bengals: Cincinnati won 27-24 at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Oct. 13, 2013.

Really early scouting report: Like two of the other teams we've already profiled, the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, the Bills will go through their own transition this offseason as players acclimate to new head coach Rex Ryan's system. This offseason, Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson appeared to be a candidate to fill the Bills' vacancy, but Buffalo hired Ryan after he was fired by the Jets. Jackson remained in Cincinnati and will be coaching against the Bills this fall for the first time as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator.

The quarterback question will be among the top storylines surrounding the Bills this training camp. EJ Manuel, a 2012 first-round pick, anchors a unit that also includes Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor, two potential challengers to Manuel who were added this offseason via a trade and free agency, respectively. Though there will be concern about what the Bills do at quarterback, there doesn't appear to be much to worry about with their running game. McCoy's addition will add a little life to a backfield that already included Fred Jackson, and that received a boost from Clay's addition as an H-back.

Cincinnati's chief concern will be deciding how to defend an offense that, for now, doesn't have an identity. When it comes to game-planning around the Bills' defense, the Bengals already know what to expect after facing Ryan's schemes fairly often in recent years. The Bengals played the Jets last preseason and during the 2013 regular season. In the latter game, Cincinnati blasted the Jets 49-9. With or without the defensive-minded Ryan, Buffalo's defense probably would have been pretty good in 2015 considering free-agent linemen Jarius Wynn and Jerry Hughes re-signed this offseason. Last season, the Bills ranked fourth in total defense.

This is the only non-division road game the Bengals have in the Eastern time zone this season.