A.J. Green during a game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Cleveland won 34-24. (David Richard-US PRESSWIRE)

Denver Broncos vs.Cincinnati Bengals: Game Preview

The 4-3 Denver Broncos visit the 3-4 Cincinnati Bengals which marks the 27th meeting between the two teams. The Broncos hold an 18-8 advantage (11-2 at home/6-6 away) with the last meeting happening in Denver in September ’11. The Broncos won 24-22, and they’ve won the last three games in the matchup. The Broncos are coming off of two straight wins while the Bengals have lost their last three by an average of 7 points. Kickoff is set for 11:00 a.m. MDT on CBS.

Offense

Broncos: This can be one of the scariest offenses in the league with Peyton Manning under center and a backfield that can easily rush for over 200 yards in a game. The Bengals’ rush defense is in shambles, so expect Willis McGahee to have another 100+ yard performance. The Broncos are 3rd in total yards per game (405.4) and 4th in points per game (29.1). They’re also the 3rd most effective team in the red zone. The great thing about the Broncos offense is that they can strike from all angles. It’s easy to tell that players are becoming more familiar with each other, and the best part is the offensive line is keeping Manning clean. He has the 15th most passing attempts, yet he’s only been sacked 10 times.

Bengals: Hand it to Andy Dalton to work with what he has. His main target is A.J. Green who is averaging 90.9 receiving yards per game, and has 7 touchdowns through seven games. Green is only in his second year, and he’s already sandwiched between Calvin Johnson and Vincent Jackson in receiving yards this season. Dalton, however, is very prone to turnovers. He has 13 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and 8 fumbles (2 lost) on the season. The Bengals are 14th in points per game (23.7), but 31st on third down (28.4%). BenJarvus Green-Ellis is leading the team in rushing with 61.6 yards per game.

Defense

Broncos: This game will be about Champ Bailey locking down Green while the Broncos’ defensive front applies pressure to Dalton. The young quarterback will make mistakes if he’s pressured. The Broncos did a nice job of that against Drew Brees. Even though the defense had just one sack, they knocked Brees out of his rhythm. It will be much easier to do that against Dalton who has already been sacked 17 times this season. The Broncos are 8th in yards allowed (319.3) and tied for 14th in takeaways (11). Watch to see what happens in the secondary. Will right cornerback Chris Harris start for the third game in the row, or will Tracy Porter be inserted back into the starting lineup after missing a few weeks?

Bengals: The one thing this defense does well is get to the quarterback. They’re 3rd in the league in sacks with 23 on the season. That’s about the only area they excel. They’re 22nd against the rush and 16th against the pass. When an opposing offense has gotten into the red zone, they’ve scored a touchdown 65% of the time which is 29th in the league. Rey Maualuga leads the team with 58 tackles, Geno Atkins is averaging a sack per game with 7 on the year, and Chris Crocker has 2 interceptions. This defense will have their hands full with Manning and an offensive line that has gelled nicely.

Special Teams

Broncos: Trindon Holliday really showed a spark in the return game last week with a long of 22 yards on one of his punt returns. The Bengals punt coverage isn’t all that solid, so look for Holliday to break a big one.

Bengals: Brandon Tate handles most of the return duties. He’s broken a kickoff for 45 yards and a punt for 32 yards. Adam “Pacman” Jones has gone 81 yards on a punt this season. Kicker Mike Nugent is 11-for-12 on field goals with a long of 48 yards.

Coaching

Broncos: John Fox has his team playing some really good ball right now. As the schedule lightens up, he’s going to have to keep this team focused on one game at a time.

Bengals: For a team that has lost their last three, Marvin Lewis needs some player intervention on and off the field. That’s why he asked Dalton and Maualuga to step up as leaders for their respective units. The team has young talent with potential. It just needs to finish games.

Prediction: Broncos – 31 Bengals- 17

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