For the final Monday Night Football game of the season, the NFL has selected an excellent game to close out the slate. Two of the very best teams in the AFC will square off for improved playoff positioning and perhaps to send an early message to each other if a meeting does come to fruition one month from now. For Denver, it will again be young QB Brock Osweiler under centre as Peyton Manning remains injured and now mired in HGH-use allegations. And for the Bengals, it’s going to be another week of A.J. McCarron for Cincinnati as starter Andy Dalton remains out injured. It has been so far, so good for the back-up quarterback, but facing the Broncos will provide a stiff test for the youngster. With so much on the line, a battle between two standout teams in a standalone match-up is surely a ‘can’t miss’ proposition. So read on below for an official score prediction and full game analysis for this tantalizing Broncos and Bengals showdown.
Bengals vs. Broncos Betting Odds:
Cincinnati Bengals +3.5 (-115)
@ Denver Broncos -3.5 (-105)
Over 39.5 (-110)
Under 39.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Bengals vs. Broncos Pick:
With Peyton Manning already sidelined for the ailing Broncos, it has been quietly rumoured that new starting quarterback Brock Osweiler is also dealing with a nagging injury to his shoulder. He struggled last week in the second half, and though he’s expected to start and play the full game, it’ll be interesting to see how effective he will be against a very stout Bengals’ stop unit. Cincinnati boasts an absolutely excellent pass defense, and should be able to take away an already limited Demaryius Thomas. This will leave Osweiler with little options through the air, and the Broncos likely will not find much success on the ground either. It won’t be easy for Denver to move the chains come Monday evening.
On the other side of the football, expect similar results for the Bengals and A.J. McCarron. The former Alabama grad showed some reluctance to throw deep last week, opting for many check-down plays instead. Also, with Tyler Eifert slated to be out at the tight end spot, and A.J. Green playing very hurt, don’t expect much from the Bengals elite skill guys either. Denver is like Cincinnati with their defense, in that it can be very stifling at times. With both offenses depleted and undermanned, expect defense to reign supreme on Monday night. And while the Bengals do have some capable guys out of the backfield, expect some struggles from both Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill against Denver. The Broncos are excellent against the run and have been all season long. Expect lots of three-and-outs from both these teams.
With two backup quarterbacks squaring off against elite stop units in a pretty important game, defense should definitely win out on the final Monday Night Football of the season. Moving the chains with any sort of consistency will surely be a rarity, especially with the injuries and limitations to Green and Thomas respectively. While I lean to the Bengals covering the 3.5-points, I think the value lies with going under the already low total number. Expect a close, back-and-forth affair with both sides playing conservative throughout. For all the hype surrounding such a great Monday evening match-up, don’t expect many fireworks from it.
PICK = Under 39.5 (-110)