NFL Wire News

Week 16 Preview: Broncos at Bengals

on

Denver Broncos (11-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1)

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati – TV: ESPN

*TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

*Keys to the game: Rookie RB Jeremy Hill created a positive shift in the Bengals’ offense, bringing consistent punch behind a strong offensive line and daring defenses not to make stopping him a priority. As teams take notice, WR A.J. Green has averaged 115.6 yards per game in the last five weeks.

Takeaways dealt Denver’s knockout punch last week in San Diego, as a pair of interceptions finished off the Chargers and boosted the Broncos’ total to nine during their current four-game winning streak. With bookend pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller both over 10 sacks this season, the goal is to force QB Andy Dalton to panic.

The Bengals are protecting the ball well, but in their four losses and a tie against Carolina, they have 11 giveaways, an average of 2.2 per game).

Denver is getting great results from its own shift to a power-running emphasis with 37 rushing attempts on average the past four weeks. With wintry weather in the forecast, the Broncos would be thrilled to add Ronnie Hillman (foot) back to the backfield mix and call on QB Peyton Manning to play it safe with short crossers and sideline throws.

*Matchup to watch – Hill vs. Broncos LB Brandon Marshall: One of the reasons why the Broncos’ run defense has lingered among the league’s leaders all season — it’s second in the league and leads the AFC in yards per rush (3.41) and per game (71.6) allowed — is because Marshall emerged as a reliable tackler who prevented runs from reaching the second level. Hill averages 5.0 yards per carry and has run for at least 148 yards in three of his last seven games, averaging 97.4 yards in that span.

*Player spotlight – Broncos CB Chris Harris Jr.: Aqib Talib has the household name in the Denver secondary, but Harris’ man coverage skills that netted him a long-term deal with the Broncos are the reason he’ll likely get the call to chase Green.

*Fast facts: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is 1-5 against the Broncos. … The Bengals are 13-2-1 in their past 16 home games. … Manning is 8-0 all-time vs. Cincinnati.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Similar approaches should ensure a tight game unless the primetime yips inexplicably cripple Dalton again. In a game both teams consider a must-have, Manning pushes the Broncos to a win against a defense worn down by the Broncos’ rushing attack.

*Our pick: Broncos 24-20


About The Sports Xchange

Avatar

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business