It may seem a bit odd, but week 16 marks the first time this season that the Denver Broncos have been on Monday Night Football on ESPN. For a team that is undoubtedly on top of the league in prime time game appearances, it’s been a long time since Denver has been on Monday Night Football. In fact, you’d have to go back to September 23rd of 2013, week three of the season when the Broncos hosted the Oakland Raiders in a blowout victory at the start of their record-setting season.
You can bet that Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico, ESPN’s crew in the booth, will be excited beyond measure to have a game featuring two playoff teams, as well as legendary quarterback Peyton Manning after some of the garbage they’ve put up with this season. Playing in Cincinnati, this game was marked early on as one of the toughest the Broncos would face this season. The Bengals are in 1st place in their division for the time being with the Pittsburgh Steelers banging on the door now with 10 wins this season.
Always tough at home, the Bengals have a lot yet to play for this season but a really tough task ahead of them with our Broncos coming to town. Denver boasts the fourth ranked offense in the NFL as well as the fourth ranked defense. Cincinnati’s greatest strength is its rushing offense, which is ranked 6th in the NFL. They face arguably their toughest task of the season against the Broncos’ 2nd ranked run defense, allowing under 72 yards per game.
For the Broncos and Peyton Manning, it’s a matchup against a physical and well-coached Bengals defense that hasn’t really been mind-boggling this season, but they are fresh off of a shutout win against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland. The Broncos face a tough task against a team that has been in playoff contention since Andy Dalton arrived, and a home crowd that is going to be more than ready for their team to get back to the playoffs and win the AFC North.
Here’s everything you need to know about Monday night’s game.
Who: Denver Broncos (11-3) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1)
What: NFL Week 16 Matchup
When: Monday Night, December 22nd, 2014 — 6:30 PM (MT)
Where: Paul Brown Stadium — Cincinnati, OH
Why: Because, football
TV Info: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden)
Online Streaming: Watch ESPN (live), NFL Game Rewind (after game)
Weather: Cloudy, 46 degrees; 20% chance of rain
The Bengals are a good team, obviously. They have nine wins this season, have a good coach, and they have really good skill players. They have a tough secondary that can force turnovers, and they have speed as well as power. The Broncos are just better, in my opinion, even as the visiting team. I don’t really fear the Bengals for one major reason — Andy Dalton.
Is Dalton capable of having a huge game? Sure. Against this Broncos defense, however, I don’t see that happening and I think Jack Del Rio will find ways to exploit that early on. The one area where the Broncos need to be careful is in the deep half of the field. The Bengals will take shots downfield, and Dalton is not afraid to throw them. The safeties could be busy tonight, but if the Broncos play ‘Cover 2’ and mix up blitz packages with their young group of linebackers, I think they’ll be able to force Dalton into plenty of ill-advised throws to create turnovers and an opportunity for Peyton Manning and company to control the ball, and control the game.