Denver Broncos keys to victory against the Bengals

Denver Broncos defense celebrates. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos defense celebrates. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /
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Denver Broncos
DENVER, COLORADO – DECEMBER 12: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions is sacked by a Denver Broncos defender in the third quarter at Empower Field At Mile High on December 12, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos effectively have a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.  Here are the keys to the game.

The Denver Broncos beat the soul out of the Detroit Lions on Sunday, 38-10.  It was a nearly perfect game on the field, and the team needs to ride that momentum into Sunday, where they will face a much more formidable team in the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals have taken a leap in Zac Taylor’s third year as Head Coach.  The Bengals boast an improved defense and high-powered offense, featuring second-year quarterback Joe Burrow, and stud rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

The Bengals are 7-6, the same record as the Denver Broncos, but sit ahead of Denver in the standings, and are closer to a playoff spot than the Broncos are.

This is effectively a playoff game for Denver.  Failure to win on Sunday would almost certainly close the door on the 2021 season.

There are a few keys to the Broncos winning this game, and we’ll discuss them below.

Denver Broncos Keys to Victory Against the Cincinnati Bengals

1. Defensive Performance

The Denver Broncos win games with their defense which has seen Bradley Chubb miss significant time, Von Miller get traded, and has had both Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell each suffer season-ending injuries.

Even through all of that, Vic Fangio has managed to keep this defense among the league’s best.

Denver allows the second-fewest points in the NFL, along with ranking 10th in both rushing and receiving yards allowed.  This is easily Vic Fangio’s best defensive performance as Head Coach of the Denver Broncos.

If the Broncos want to win on Sunday, they’ll need the defense to have their best game of the season.  The secondary will see the return of Bryce Callahan, and hopefully, Kareem Jackson is OK after suffering an injury against the Lions.

Bryce Callahan coming back to the lineup at such a crucial time is huge for the Broncos’ chances.

The Bengals rank 11th in pass yards per game and 7th in points.  They aren’t a huge threat running the football, but Joe Mixon is a stellar running back, so expect them to try and establish their own run game.

The secondary will have their hands full with Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins.  All three receivers have at least 600 receiving yards on the season, with Ja’Marr chase already eclipsing 1,000 yards and Tee Higgins on that pace.

Chase is their best receiver and deep-ball threat, both Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson have to be on their toes, as Cincy will surely try and connect on a few deep passes.

The Bengals might have the best offensive core that the Broncos will go against this season, but their offensive line still remains iffy at best, so the Broncos pass rush will have to get home and sack Joe Burrow multiple times as well.