Entering this season, two teams with the most questions surrounding them were definitely the Denver Broncos and the Cincinnati Bengals. Experts wanted to know how Peyton Manning would respond, what his arm strength would be, and if the Broncos could follow up last year’s miracle run. Conversely, similar questions were being asked in Cincinnati. People were curious as to whether last season was a fluke, would Andy Dalton go through a sophomore slump, and so on.
Eight weeks into this NFL season and some of those questions are beginning to get answered. Peyton looks great, and so do the Denver Broncos. On the other hand, their Week 9 opponents in Cincinnati have succumbed to the pre-season talk surrounding them. Dalton has simply regressed, and so too have his Bengals. As these teams enter the second half of the season, they’re two squads moving in opposite directions. If the Bengals are to make a late playoff push, they’ve got no choice but to get a home victory on Sunday.
Despite the fact that these two teams are separated by just one game given their records, they seem like miles apart in terms of talent. It has definitely been a roller coaster year thus far for the Denver Broncos, filled with crazy comebacks and exciting finishes. Though they sit at just 4-3, they’ve got an easy schedule on the horizon, and in an extremely weak AFC West division, it’s theirs for the taking. One key injury to note for the Broncos in this one, will be the loss of important CB Tracy Porter. Porter was ruled out following symptoms of dizziness. It’s unclear when he’ll return to the line-up.
For the Bengals, they’re in the midst of quite the up-and-down season. Just when it seems like they’ve rediscovered they form they displayed in 2011, they revert back to the awful Bengals’ teams we’re mostly familiar with. They enter with a disappointing 3-4 record and with a tough schedule in the coming weeks, home games like this need to be won. Cincinnati has dropped key contests to weak opponents this season, and if they don’t win shockers against better teams down the line, they won’t be playing into January. Coming off a bye-week, look for an inspired outing from a hungry Bengals side, but will it be enough to derail a tough Broncos side?
Broncos vs. Bengals Betting Odds:
Denver Broncos -3.5 (-115)
@ Cincinnati Bengals +3.5 (-105)
Over 48 (-110)
Under 48 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Broncos vs. Bengals Pick:
Despite the fact that this seems like a premium spot for a reeling Bengals team, it’s hard to back them under any circumstances right now. They looked awful in their last outing in a prime-time game against Pittsburgh, and it’s become clear they aren’t the team they were in 2011.
Cincinnati enters this pivotal contest with good rest and preparation as they’re coming off their bye-week. Add in the fact that this 1:00 P.M. start on the east coast is a tough time transition for Denver, and you’d think the advantage clearly goes to a desperate Bengals side, though given the talent mismatch on Sunday, that simply cannot be the case.
Denver QB Peyton Manning looks like a man on a mission this year. He had his fair share of doubters in the off-season, questioning whether he could still play and pondering the impact he could have on this Broncos team. Well the results are in, and those “experts” were all wrong to doubt Peyton Manning. Manning currently holds the second highest quarterback rating of his career and is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, Manning and this Broncos’ offense is improving every week, and going against an awful Cincinnati defense should prove easy for the Denver attack.
This Cincinnati defense gets gashed on the ground and through the air, and with Manning’s arsenal seemingly constantly expanding, they’ve got no shot at stopping Denver on Sunday. Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, has faced Manning six times, only beating him once. Look for that to change into 1 for 7 after this contest.
Conversely, the Cincinnati attack has spiralled downwards as well. Andy Dalton has thrown an interception in every one of his games this season, and considering his best target A.J. Green will likely be neutralized by Champ Bailey, options could be limited for the former TCU product.
In the lead-up to this game, Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis called out key personnel on his team, urging them to provide stronger leadership. Expect a hungry Bengals team, one with renewed vigour, but ultimately it won’t be enough to knock off a Denver team that’s flying high right now. Though it seems like your typical “letdown spot” for the Broncos, Denver may not be at their best, but it’ll still be enough to roll over the Bengals. Denver by a touchdown seems fitting for this one.
PICK = Denver -3.5 (-110)