Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott shouts back to his bench in the fourth quarter of the NFL divisional playoff football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bengals won 27-10 to advance to the AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Bills name Joe Danna new safeties coach

The Buffalo Bills named Joe Danna their new safeties coach on Thursday.

Danna replaces Jim Salgado, who was fired last week.

Danna served as safeties coach for the Houston Texans in 2022 under then-head coach Lovie Smith.

Danna boasts 15 years of NFL experience, including time with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2017-20), New York Jets (2015-16) and Atlanta Falcons (2012-14).

The Bills allowed 214.6 passing yards per game in 2022, placing them 15th in the NFL.

–Field Level Media

Jan 15, 2023; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills fans cheer and hold a sign in support of safety Damar Hamlin (not pictured) before a NFL wild card game against the Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Bills’ Damar Hamlin teams up with AHA on CPR challenge

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is teaming up with the American Heart Association on an initiative promoting CPR.

Hamlin had his life saved via CPR during a football game against the host Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2. He has made a swift and miraculous recovery and hopes to inspire others during February, which is American Heart Month.

“I want to thank everybody for the love and support over these past few weeks,” Hamlin said a the video posted to his social media accounts. “As you know, CPR saved my life earlier this year on the field and CPR could easily save your life or someone you love.”

Hamlin announced the “Damar Hamlin #3forHeart CPR Challenge,” designed to teach people how to perform hands-only CPR.

The 3 stands for Hamlin’s jersey number as well as the number of steps in the challenge.

The steps are going to heart.org/3 to watch a video that teaches people how to give CPR; donating to the American Heart Association to fund CPR education and training; and sharing the challenge with three friends by using the #3forHeart hashtag on social media.

In his video, Hamlin challenges former first lady Michelle Obama, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and retiring football player Tom Brady.

After collapsing on the field due to cardiac arrest, Hamlin was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center in critical condition and was placed on a ventilator. He was released nine days later.

“I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of all the love, all the support and everything that’s just been coming in my way,” Hamlin said in the video.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) tackles Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox (88) in the fourth quarter during an NFL divisional playoff football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.

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Three Bills players added to Pro Bowl roster

Three additional Buffalo Bills players were added to the Pro Bowl roster Monday as replacements.

Left tackle Dion Dawkins and tight end Dawson Knox are replacing Orlando Brown and Travis Kelce of the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs.

Left guard Rodger Saffold replaces Indianapolis Colts left guard Quenton Nelson, who is unable to participate due to an injury.

It is the second straight Pro Bowl appearance for Dawkins and Saffold and the first for Knox.

Dawkins started 15 games, Saffold started 16 in his first season with Buffalo, and Knox caught 48 passes for 517 yards and six touchdowns in 15 starts.

The reinvented Pro Bowl Games, including a flag football contest, will take place from Thursday through Sunday in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

Jan 15, 2023; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills fans cheer and hold a sign in support of safety Damar Hamlin (not pictured) before a NFL wild card game against the Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Bills S Damar Hamlin makes first public comments since cardiac arrest

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made his first public comments since going into cardiac arrest during a Jan. 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, taking time to offer thanks for the outpouring of support he has received over the past month.

“I think it was important for me to wait and speak publicly at the right time, as it was a lot to process within my own self, mentally, physically, even spiritually,” Hamlin said in the video. “But I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of all of the love, all the support, and everything that’s just been coming in my way.

“What happened to me on Monday Night Football I feel is a direct example of God using me as a vessel to share my passion and my love directly from my heart with the entire world, and I’m able to give it back to kids and communities all across the world who needed it most. And that’s always been my dream, that’s always been what I stood for and what I continue to stand for.”

Hamlin attended Buffalo’s divisional-round game against the Bengals last Sunday after spending nine days in two hospitals. He met with teammates in the locker room ahead of the game and was also shown on the jumbotron, prompting fans to shower him with cheers.

Hamlin thanked all of medical personnel who treated him, including both the Bills’ and Bengals’ training staffs in addition to those who cared for him at University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Buffalo General Hospital. He also offered gratitude toward his family, fans and the NFL community as a whole.

“To the entire Bills organization and my brothers who made it a priority to lift me up spiritually, mentally, and in every way possible, reaching out every day seeing how I was doing, calling texting, just checking up on me no matter the situation,” Hamlin said. “I’m proud to be a part of this team, I’m proud to be able to call you guys my brothers.

“To the city of Cincinnati, the Bengals, and the entire NFL, just for putting team allegiance aside to root for one kid’s life, and the humanity of a player that’s wearing Buffalo blue. You put humanity above team loyalty, you showed the world unity over division. I’m not surprised by it but I’m deeply grateful, and I will be forever thankful and indebted to that.”

Much of the support Hamlin received came through donations to his non-profit organization, the Chasing M’s Foundation. The foundation was running a community toy drive, which received over $9 million in donations in the wake of Hamlin’s injury.

“My mind is literally blown away from all this support, I don’t even have the words to express the gratitude for the amount of support that was given into that,” Hamlin said. I just wanted to be able to play my role and do my part in my community as I ventured off to chase my dreams in the NFL, and you guys have just took that and blown it away, and I’m so excited for the things I have planned in the future for these kids all across the country now.”

Hamlin closed the video by holding up his hands and making a heart symbol, something that he also did when shown on the jumbotron at the Bills’ playoff game against Cincinnati.

–Field Level Media

Jan 22, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Mitchell Wilcox (84) collides with Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano (58) after a catch in the second quarter of the NFL divisional playoff football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills during an AFC divisional round game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

Bills LB Matt Milano replaces T.J. Watt on Pro Bowl roster

Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano has been named to the AFC roster for the upcoming Pro Bowl Games, the team announced Friday.

Milano will take the place of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, who pulled out due to an injury.

Milano, who is headed to his first Pro Bowl, was named as a First-Team All-Pro for the first time in his career this season. He had 99 tackles with three interceptions — including one for a touchdown — and two fumble recoveries while starting all 15 games in which he played in 2022.

Milano, 28, has totaled 458 tackles, 10.5 sacks, eight interceptions and nine fumble recoveries in 85 career games (69 starts) with the Bills.

The Pro Bowl Games will take place in Las Vegas on Feb. 5.

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott watches his team play against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bills fire safeties coach Jim Salgado

The Buffalo Bills fired safeties coach Jim Salgado, ESPN reported Thursday.

Salgado had been on the Bills staff since 2017, when head coach Sean McDermott was hired. Salgado moved to safeties coach in 2022 after serving as the team’s nickels coach the past two seasons.

It was a difficult season for the safety position group. The Bills were without Micah Hyde, who suffered a season-ending neck injury in Week 2, and Jordan Poyer missed five games with injuries. The on-field cardiac arrest of Damar Hamlin in Week 17 capped an injury-plagued season on defense for the Bills, who won the AFC East but failed to reach the AFC championship game for the second consecutive season.

The Bills allowed 214.6 passing yards per game in 2022, placing them 15th in the NFL.

–Field Level Media

Jan 22, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) passes the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter of an AFC divisional round game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals skate past Bills to reach another AFC title game

Joe Burrow passed for 242 yards and two touchdowns and the Cincinnati Bengals rolled to a 27-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Orchard Park, N.Y., to return to the AFC Championship Game for the second straight season.

Joe Mixon rushed for 105 yards and one touchdown in the divisional round contest as third-seeded Cincinnati recorded its 10th straight victory. Ja’Marr Chase and Hayden Hurst had scoring receptions for the Bengals, who prevailed during game-long snowy conditions.

Josh Allen was 25-of-42 passing for 265 yards and one interception and also rushed for a touchdown for second-seeded Buffalo. Stefon Diggs had just 35 yards on four catches and the Bills were outgained 412 to 325 while seeing their eight-game winning streak come to an end.

The Bengals will visit the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday in a rematch of last season’s AFC title game. The Bengals won that contest 27-24 in overtime.

Burrow completed 23 of 36 passes while increasing his franchise record for playoff victories to five. Cincinnati racked up 30 first downs.

Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest 20 days earlier when these teams met in Cincinnati, attended the contest.

The Bengals led 24-10 after Mixon scored from the 1-yard line with 1:17 left in the third quarter. Mixon was initially ruled short of the goal line but Cincinnati challenged the result and the call was overturned by the replay review.

Cincinnati’s Evan McPherson made it a three-possession game with a 20-yard field goal with 11:22 left in the contest.

The Bills came up empty on their next drive when Allen’s fourth-and-6 pass from the Bengals’ 16 fell incomplete with 7:23 remaining. Allen was later picked off by Cam Taylor-Britt with 1:02 left.

Cincinnati had 18 first downs and outgained the Bills 274-135 in the first half to take a 17-7 lead at the break.

Burrow connected with Chase on a 28-yard touchdown pass on the game-opening drive and followed with a 15-yard scoring pass to Hurst on the second drive to make it 14-0 with 3:47 left in the first quarter.

Cincinnati 10 first downs in the opening period and Buffalo was outgained 160-8 without gaining a first down. But the Bills put together a 15-play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter with Allen scoring on a 1-yard sneak with 7:25 left in the half.

Burrow and Chase nearly teamed up for a 10-yard scoring pass late in the second quarter but a replay review displayed that Chase didn’t have possession of the ball while in the end zone. McPherson entered to kick a 28-yard field goal with 1:49 remaining.

Buffalo began the third quarter with a drive that took 7:18 but settled for Tyler Bass’ 25-yard field goal to trail 17-10.

–Field Level Media

Jan 15, 2023; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills fans cheer and hold a sign in support of safety Damar Hamlin (not pictured) before a NFL wild card game against the Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Damar Hamlin makes pregame visit to Bills

Preparing to host the Cincinnati Bengals in a divisional playoff Sunday, the Buffalo Bills got a pregame pick-me-up from their teammate, Damar Hamlin.

The Bills’ Twitter account posted a video of Hamlin riding in a utility vehicle and being driven to the door of the locker room at Highmark Stadium in snowy Orchard Park, N.Y.

It was against the Bengals in Cincinnati on Jan. 2 that Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field, where trainers and medical staff saved his life. He was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit and stayed there one week, discharged to continue his recovery in Buffalo.

Since the incident, the team, the Buffalo community, the NFL and the nation have cheered for Hamlin’s recovery. A GoFundMe page to support his Chasing M’s Foundation, a charity for children, has raised nearly $9 million.

Bills coach Sean McDermott said last week that Hamlin been to the team facility “almost daily” and was taking his return to daily activities “one baby step at a time.”

Hamlin, 24, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Bills in 2021.

–Field Level Media

Dec 17, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert (31) is tackled by Buffalo Bills defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (92) in the first quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Bills starting DT DaQuan Jones inactive vs. Bengals

Buffalo Bills starting defensive tackle DaQuan Jones was listed as inactive for Sunday’s AFC divisional round playoff game against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals.

Jones, 31, was limited in practice all week and listed as questionable for the game with a calf injury.

He recorded 38 tackles, two sacks and one fumble recovery in 16 games (all starts) this season.

Fellow defensive tackle Jordan Phillips is active for the game after he sat out last week’s win against the Miami Dolphins due to a shoulder injury.

In addition to Jones, the Bills listed the following players as inactive: cornerback Christian Benford, offensive lineman Ike Boettger, tight end Tommy Sweeney, linebackers Terrel Bernard and Baylon Spector and safety Jared Mayden.

As for the Bengals, right guard Alex Cappa (ankle) and left tackle Jonah Williams (dislocated kneecap) were ruled out on Friday due to their respective injuries. Max Scharping is expected to start in place of Cappa, while Jackson Carman will get the nod at left tackle.

Running back Chris Evans, cornerback Tre Flowers, defensive end Jeff Gunter, defensive tackle Jay Tufele and tight end Nick Bowers are inactive for Cincinnati.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) audibles during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Divisional Playoffs: Bengals-Bills Preview, Props, Prediction

Pro Bowl quarterbacks Josh Allen and Joe Burrow were slated to have their initial confrontation earlier this month.

But Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest emergency postponed that battle after nine-plus minutes.

Instead, the two gunslingers will have their first official duel on a much bigger stage when the second-seeded Buffalo Bills entertain the third-seeded Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC Divisional playoff game on Sunday afternoon at Orchard Park, N.Y.

Burrow guided the Bengals to the Super Bowl last season and Allen craves a similar run for the Bills. Burrow is the first Cincinnati quarterback to win playoff games in consecutive seasons while Allen is aiming to steer Buffalo into the AFC Championship Game for the second time in three seasons.

Both teams are red hot: The Bengals have won nine straight games and the Bills have prevailed eight consecutive times.

“It feels like two deserving teams,” Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said of the matchup. “Buffalo is one of the greatest environments to play in in all of football. I’ve been there many, many times and it’s a fun environment.

“It’s a worthy playoff environment and so our guys are going to be juiced up and ready to go.”

The Bengals were the surprise team last season when they crashed the Super Bowl and lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Now they are part of a tough trio of AFC contenders along with the Bills and top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs.

“We’re in a great spot,” Burrow said. “We have great leaders in the locker room and Zac puts us in the right mindset to create positions to go and succeed. We have the utmost faith in each other to go make plays to win the game.”

The Bills are 6.0-point favorites at several sportsbooks. That includes BetMGM and BetRivers, where the underdog Bengals have been backed by 67.5 percent of the spread-line tickets – second-most among the eight teams playing this weekend behind only Kansas City.

The 5.5-point spread at DraftKings has drawn lopsided action with the Bengals backed by 72 percent of the total bets along with 59 percent of the money.

The Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens 24-17 in the wild-card round with defensive end Sam Hubbard scoring the winning points on a 98-yard fumble return that is the longest in postseason history.

Meanwhile, Buffalo has won 13 of its last 14 home playoff games after posting a 34-31 victory over the Miami Dolphins. The Bills were up 17-0 before sloppy play — they committed three turnovers — allowed the Dolphins back in the game.

“You can’t try to eliminate every single turnover and play scared,” Allen said. “We’re aggressive. We want to score touchdowns. That’s the gist of it.”

Sunday’s matchup comes 20 days after the matchup in Cincinnati in which Hamlin collapsed during the first quarter after tackling Bengals wideout Tee Higgins. He was administered CPR on the field and taken to a nearby hospital and the game was later postponed.

Hamlin has made a miraculous speedy recovery as the teams reunite for the playoff showdown.

“I’m sure it’s gonna be a little bit emotional,” Allen said of facing the Bengals. “I will say that I’ve got so much respect for the Bengals, their staff, their organization, and their players after everything that transpired. The way that we came together and kind of talked with them — they were extremely open to the whole concept of not continuing the game and making sure that we were OK.”

Also of note is that the Bills are playing in the division round for the third straight season. They went 1-1 the past two campaigns.

“We’ve been here before,” Buffalo coach Sean McDermott said. “We’ve got good experience in the divisional round. We’re grateful for that. … So, it’s the next game on our radar. And we’ve got to prepare for it.”

Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase Anytime TD (+135 at DraftKings): Chase has been the fourth-most popular Anytime TD scorer among the four games this weekend, and offers by far the biggest potential payout among the top five at the sportsbook. Chase has scored at least one touchdown in eight of 13 games this season, including six of his past eight. Buffalo ranked 26th against the pass during the regular season while allowing an average of 258.1 yards per game, and struggled to contain Dolphins rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson last weekend.

Over 49 Total Points (-110 at BetMGM): Not only are these two of the hottest teams in the league going head-to-head, it’s two of the most potent offenses in the league. Of concern with this prop are the injuries along Cincinnati’s o-line – down three starters. But Buffalo’s defense has also been vulnerable in recent weeks. The expectation here is that Burrow and Allen are trading punches for four quarters and that every offensive opportunity will need to be maximized.

The Bengals lost left tackle Jonah Williams (dislocated kneecap) during the win over Baltimore and will be without three starting offensive linemen. Right tackle La’el Collins (ACL) and right guard Alex Cappa (ankle) were previously injured.

“It’s an interesting spot,” Cincinnati center Ted Karras said. “We have to have guys step up. We’ve lost three starters. That’s never a huge recipe for anything good.”

Cornerback Tre Flowers (hamstring) was ruled doubtful in the Bengals’ final injury report.

For the Bills, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (calf) and nose tackle Jordan Phillips (shoulder) were ruled questionable. Buffalo cornerback Dane Jackson (knee) and safety Jordan Poyer (knee) were limited earlier in the week before advancing to full-practice participants.

The size of the spread is somewhat surprising given the battle between two of the hottest teams in the league. Injuries along the Bengals’ offensive line have contributed to the spread and are a legitimate concern, but quarterback Joe Burrow has an extremely strong record in elimination games dating back to college.

Meanwhile, the Bills had to survive a scare against the Dolphins due to a few poor decisions by Allen, some sloppy ballhandling and an inability to consistently get off the field on defense.

–Bengals 30, Bills 27

–Field Level Media