Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos
Sunday, December 19, 2021 – 04:05 PM EST at Empower Field
The Bengals started the season 5-2 but are 2-4 since. The Bengals have not managed expectations well and the beginning of their downswing saw them lose as a double-digit favorite versus the New York Jets. After getting blown out by the Cleveland Browns, they had two big wins over the Raiders and the Steelers. They followed that up with two home losses to the Chargers and the 49ers. Now their playoff hopes are on the line against an AFC rival.
The Bengals had many question marks going into the season. They were not expected to be in playoff contention at this point in the season, so from that perspective, the season is a success so far. However, we as humans are never satisfied. Now the Bengals have shown that they compete with the best, the expectations are there and the Bengals are expected to make another leap.
One of the main concerns of this season was the Bengals' defense, and they have performed better than expected. The Bengals are holding opponents to just 22.5 points per game, which is lower than many pundits expected. The Bengals hold opponents to less than 100 rushing yards per game at 93.1. We expected the Bengals to have a high-powered offense, but the defense has been the key to their success.
The Bengals were criticized when they eschewed offensive line help in the form of OL Penei Sewell to draft WR Ja'Marr Chase. Chase is a former teammate of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow at LSU. The Bengals have proved naysayers wrong as Chase has instantly become one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
With Chase instantly blossoming into a star, the Bengals have an excellent wide receiver corps. Chase is flanked by Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Both are strong receivers in their own right. The Bengals have surrounded their young quarterback with many weapons at wide receiver and it has definitely paid dividends.
The Broncos scored an emotional win last Sunday after the passing of one of their all-time great players Demaryius Thomas. Emotions were at a high and the Broncos were able to channel their sadness into a fitting tribute to the late wide receiver. The Broncos played their most complete game of the season in a 38-10 win over the hapless Detroit Lions. Beating the Lions is one thing, but how will they do against another team that is their equal?
The Broncos are a defensively focused team. Head Coach Vic Fangio is one of the best defensive strategists in the NFL. Denver has All-Pro level players at all three levels of the ball: defensive line, linebacker, and secondary. The Broncos are 7thin the league in yards allowed on defense at 324.8. How will that defense fare against one of the NFL's top offenses?
The Broncos offense is led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater has been a stopgap to a team that has struggled at the quarterback position since the retirement of Peyton Manning. Bridgewater's veteran presence has been a boon to the team. His penchant for avoiding turnovers fits in perfectly with the Broncos' hard-nosed defensive style of football.
The Broncos have a strong running attack led by Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams. We can count on the Broncos' defense to do well in almost every game, but the Broncos' offense has been inconsistent.
Broncos secondary vs. Bengals wide receivers. This game will be decided by the Bengals' high-powered offense against the Broncos' stout defense. The Bengals have one of the best passing attacks in the league. With three strong options at wide receiver, the Bengals can be very tough for opposing coaches to scheme against. Vic Fangio is one of the best at creating defensive schemes. Fangio has his work cut out for him against the three-headed attack of the Bengals receivers.
If the Broncos are able to shut down the Bengals on offense they have a good chance of winning a low-scoring game.
If the Bengals can turn this game into a shootout, it will play to their advantage, and they are likely to be the victors.
This game illustrates how handicapping the NFL has changed. Before, the better defense was always the right side to take, especially when getting points at home. The new NFL is slanted towards offense and the Bengals have a better offense to take advantage of all the rules changes that encourage a high-scoring game.
I think the Bengals' ability to create big plays will be the difference in this game. Even though Denver will be a tough place to play, I like Cincinnati to get the win, so I'll take them at one of BMR's best sportsbooks.
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