Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos
Monday, December 28, 2015, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Denver, Colorado
Opening Line: Denver -3 1/2
Current Line: Denver -3 1/2
Opening Total: 42
Current Total: 40
Opening Money Line: Broncos -185 / Bengals +165
Current Money Line: Broncos -185 / Bengals +165
The 11-3 Cincinnati Bengals travel to the 10-4 Denver Broncos Monday night in a game with massive playoff implications for both teams. The Bengals have already clinched the AFC North title, but will clinch at least a first round bye with a win Monday.
For Denver, well, they can be anywhere from the #1 seed, #2, #3, #5, #6 or even miss the playoffs entirely. Denver holds a slim half game lead over the red hot Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West. The Chiefs have won 9 straight games after a 1-5 start and have already clinched a playoff spot. The Broncos will clinch a playoff spot with a win Monday night, but can’t clinch the division until next week.
Denver leads the series 19-9 against Cincinnati. The Bengals won last year in Cincinnati 37-28 to snap a four game losing streak against the Broncos. Cincinnati hasn’t played in Denver since 2011, and hasn’t won in the Mile High City since 1975.
Cincinnati is coached by Marvin Lewis. The Bengals have home wins over the San Diego Chargers 24-19, Chiefs 36-21, Seattle Seahawks 27-24 in overtime, Cleveland Browns 31-10 and St. Louis Rams 31-7, plus road wins at the Oakland Raiders 33-13, Baltimore Ravens 28-24, Buffalo Bills 34-21, Pittsburgh Steelers 16-10, Browns 37-3 and San Francisco 49ers 24-14 last week. Cincinnati has home losses to the Houston Texans 10-6 and Steelers 33-20, plus a road loss at the Arizona Cardinals 34-31.
The Bengals were 7 point favorites against the 49ers and the total was 41. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton suffered a broken thumb in the loss to the Steelers the week before. A.J. McCarron made his first ever NFL start. The Bengals took a 21-0 lead into halftime and expanded it to 24-0 early in the third. The 49ers scored 2 late touchdowns, but it was wasn’t enough. The 49ers had 318 total yards to 242 for the Bengals, but San Francisco was unable to overcome four turnovers. The Bengals are 11-2-1 ATS and the total is 7-7 this season.
Denver is coached by Gary Kubiak. The Broncos have home wins over the Baltimore Ravens 19-13, Minnesota Vikings 23-20, Green Bay Packers 29-10 and Denver Patriots 30-24 in overtime, along with road wins over the Kansas City Chiefs 31-24, Detroit Lions 24-12, Oakland Raiders 16-10, Cleveland Browns 26-23 in overtime, Chicago Bears 17-15 and San Diego Chargers 17-3. Denver has home losses to the Chiefs 29-13 and Raiders 15-12, along with a road losses at the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 and Pittsburgh Steelers 34-27 last week. The Broncos have lost two straight games.
Denver was a 7.5 point underdog against Pittsburgh and the total was 45.5. The Broncos led 27-10 late in the second quarter, but wouldn’t score again. Pittsburgh tied it up at 27 early in the fourth and scored the go ahead touchdown with 3:24 left. Denver would have two more possessions but turned the ball over on downs on both. Both teams had almost 400 total yards, and each had two turnovers. The Broncos are 8-6 ATS and the total is 5-8-1 this season.
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Cincinnati is outscoring teams 27-17 this season. The Bengals are #4 in scoring and #1 in points allowed. Cincinnati averages 367 yards per game on offense including 256 passing and 111 rushing yards. The Bengals are in the top 14 in all three categories. Cincinnati is allowing 337 yards per game on defense including 244 passing and 93 rushing yards. The Bengals are #8 in total defense and #7 in rush defense. Cincinnati is 77/186 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 79/175. The Bengals have forced 38 sacks and have allowed 27. Cincinnati is +9 in turnovers. The Bengals have allowed 3 defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Andy Dalton has completed 66.1% of his passes for 3,250 yards with 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and also has 142 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. He looks to return for the playoffs especially if the Bengals get a first round bye. McCarron has thrown for 494 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Running back Giovani Bernard has 140 carries for 680 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 44 catches for 431 yards. Jeremy Hill has 188 carries for 635 yards with 10 touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver A.J. Green has 77 catches for 1,206 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is probable with a back injury. Tight end Tyler Eifert has 48 catches for 564 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is out with a concussion. Marvin Jones has 57 catches for 745 yards and 4 touchdowns. Mohamed Sanu has 29 catches for 359 yards, along with 50 rushing yards and a touchdown. Receiver James Wright is out for the season with a knee injury.
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Denver is outscoring teams 22-19 this season. The Broncos are #5 in points allowed. Denver averages 343 yards per game on offense, including 243 passing and 100 rushing yards. The Broncos are #21 in total offense. On defense, Denver is allowing 280 total yards including 200 passing and 80 rushing yards. Denver leads the league in all three categories. The Broncos are 77/216 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 69/204. Denver has forced 47 sacks but allowed 34 sacks this season. Denver is even in turnovers. The Broncos have six defensive/special teams touchdowns and have allowed three.
Peyton Manning has completed 59.9% of his passes for 2,180 yards with 9 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He has been sacked 15 times. Manning has missed the last five games with a broken foot and is out indefinitely. Brock Osweiler has started in place of Manning. Osweiler has completed 60.3% of his passes for 1,430 yards with 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and has 56 rushing yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a shoulder injury.
Running back Ronnie Hillman has 183 carries for 711 yards and 6 touchdowns along with 18 catches for 64 yards. C.J. Anderson has 128 carries for 552 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 23 catches for 180 yards. He is probable with a back injury.
Receiver DeMaryius Thomas has 93 catches for 1,128 yards and 5 touchdowns. Emmanuel Sanders has 67 catches for 969 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end Owen Daniels has 40 catches for 432 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bennie Fowler and Jordan Norwood will also get some targets. The Broncos acquired tight end Vernon Davis in a trade with the 49ers. Five defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.
Cincinnati is 7-0 ATS in road games, 5-0 in week 16 and on grass, 6-0-1 after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 3-0-1 after gaining less than 250 yards, 11-2-1 overall, 8-2-1 after a straight up win and after a cover, 4-1 against teams with winning records, 8-2 against AFC teams, 15-5-1 after rushing for less than 90 yards, 11-4 in December, 5-2 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards and less than 15 points. The underdog is 5-1 ATS in this series recently and the road team is 4-1.
Denver is 6-1 ATS after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 5-1 after allowing more than 30 points, 4-1 against teams with winning records, 11-3 after a straight up loss, 12-4 in December, 1-4 after a cover and after gaining more than 350 total yards, and 1-5-1 in Monday games. The over is 4-1 ATS in this series recently.
Both of these teams have struggled on offense recently. Denver hasn’t scored a point in the second half in three straight games. I don’t see Cincinnati scoring that many points against the dominant Denver defense, especially with McCarron and without Eifert. I think Denver wins a low scoring game with game time temps expected in the low teens but no snow or ice.