The Denver Broncos have a rare favorable late-season matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. What areas can the Broncos exploit on Sunday?
The Denver Broncos have a very favorable matchup on the road this coming week against the Cincinnati Bengals.
It’s rare to get a matchup like this late in the season, so the Broncos need to prove that their last two wins against playoff teams (Chargers, Steelers) were not a fluke.
How will they do it?
There are a few areas where the Cincinnati Bengals really have struggled this season, and they are areas the Broncos can attempt to exploit (and frankly, improve upon).
Let’s take a look at a few of these key areas and how the Broncos can exploit Cincinnati on their home turf.
1. Third down offense
The Bengals have the worst third-down defense in the NFL this season. They have allowed over 55 percent of third-down attempts against their defense to go for a first-down conversion. That has been a problem area for the Broncos this season, and this is their chance to get back on track.
The Bengals have been particularly weak this season defending the run. They have allowed the second-most rushing yards of any team in the NFL.
How do you win on third downs? By winning on first and second down.
The Broncos can exploit the Bengals’ third-down defense by pounding the rock with Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay.
Denver has the second most effective running game in the NFL this season, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. They should be able to have their way on the early downs, allowing for favorable third-down situations.
2. Red zone offense
The Broncos’ red zone offense has been much better in recent weeks, but over the course of the whole season, that has been another problem area for them (along with third down offense).
As fate would have it, the Bengals rank 29th in the NFL this season in red zone defense. In 11 games, the Bengals have allowed 44 red zone trips to opposing teams and have allowed scores on over 70 percent of them.
It should come as no surprise, then, that their defense ranks 32nd in the NFL in points allowed.
The Broncos rank 20th in the NFL in red zone efficiency, but they have been much better in recent weeks at closing the deal when they get inside the 20.
3. Young QB
As solid as Jeff Driskel looked in his relief duty against the Cleveland Browns a week ago, the Denver Broncos need to take advantage of the fact that they are playing against a young, inexperienced quarterback.
Driskel is a heck of an athlete who can extend plays with his legs. The Broncos need to make sure someone has eyes on him at all times, but they also need to make sure they force Driskel to win this game with his arm and from the pocket.
If they are able to do that, they should be able to control the pace of the game and create some turnovers.