Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, Ohio
Monday, December 22, 2014, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Denver -3 1/2
Current Line: Denver -3 (-120)
Opening Total: 48 1/2
Current Total: 47
Opening Money Line: Broncos -165 / Bengals +140
Current Money Line: Broncos -175 / Bengals +150
AFC division leaders clash Monday night as the 11-3 Denver Broncos travel to the 9-4-1 Cincinnati Bengals. Denver has already clinched the AFC West title and will clinch a first round by with a win tonight. Cincinnati leads the 10-5 Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North. The Bengals will clinch a playoff berth with a win tonight but win or lose, Cincinnati travels to Pittsburgh next week with the AFC North title on the line. A Denver loss will also give home field advantage in the AFC playoffs to the New England Patriots.
Since 2003, Denver leads the series 5-1 against Cincinnati. The Broncos have won 4 straight games against the Bengals including 31-23 in Cincinnati in 2012 in the last meeting.
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Denver is coached by John Fox. The Broncos have road losses at the Seattle Seahawks 26-20 in overtime, Patriots 43-21 and St. Louis Rams 22-7. Denver has won 4 straight games. The Broncos have home wins over the Indianapolis Colts 31-24, Kansas City Chiefs 24-17, Arizona Cardinals 41-20, San Francisco 49ers 42-17, San Diego Chargers 35-21, Miami Dolphins 39-36 and Buffalo Bills 24-17. Denver has road wins at the New York Jets 31-17, Oakland Raiders 41-17, Chiefs 29-16 and last week at the Chargers 22-10 to clinch the AFC West title. The Broncos are 7-7 ATS and the total is 8-6 this season. The Broncos were 4 point favorites at the Chargers and the total was 49.
Cincinnati is coached by Marvin Lewis. The Bengals tied the Carolina Panthers 37-37 at home. Cincinnati has road losses at the New England Patriots 43-17 and Indianapolis Colts 27-0, plus home losses to the Cleveland Browns 24-3 and Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21. The Bengals have won 3 of their last 4 games. Cincinnati has home wins over the Atlanta Falcons 24-10, Tennessee Titans 33-7, Baltimore Ravens 27-24, Jacksonville Jaguars 33-23 and Browns 30-0 last week , and on the road against the Ravens 23-16, New Orleans Saints 27-10, Houston Texans 22-13 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-13. Cincinnati is 7-6-1 ATS and the total is 5-9 this season. The Bengals were a 2.5 point underdog against the Browns and the total was 44.
Denver is outscoring teams 29-22. The Broncos are #4 in scoring and are #12 in points allowed. Denver is averaging 401 yards per game on offense including 289 passing and 111 rushing yards. The Broncos are #4 in total offense and #4 in passing. On defense, Denver is allowing 309 total yards per game, including 248 passing and 72 rushing yards. The Broncos are #3 in total defense and #2 in rush defense. Denver is 87/198 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 84/211. The Broncos have forced 38 sacks and allowed 14 this season. Denver is +6 in turnovers. The Broncos have one defensive touchdown this season and have allowed a special teams touchdown.
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has completed 67.1% of his passes this season for 4,143 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Manning is questionable with a quad injury but has practiced every day this week so he will likely play. Running back C.J. Anderson has 148 carries for 679 yards and 4 touchdowns along with 24 catches for 249 ayrds and 2 touchdowns. Ronnie Hillman has 91 carries for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 20 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. Hillman is questionable with a foot injury. Juwan Thompson has 53 carries for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is questionable with a hip injury. Montee Ball has 55 carries for 172 yards and a touchdown plus 9 catches for 62 yards. Ball is out for the season with a groin injury.
Receiver Demaryius Thomas has 96 catches for 1,389 yards and 11 touchdowns. Emmanuel Sanders has 8 catches for 1.261 yards with 7 touchdowns. Sanders is questionable with the flu. Julius Thomas has 41 catches for 456 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wes Welker has 43 caches for 392 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Jacob Tamme has 13 catches but 2 touchdowns. He is probable with a rib injury. Six defensive players are questionable or out for the Broncos.
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Cincinnati is outscoring teams 22-21 this season. Cincinnati is #9 in points allowed The Bengals are averaging 348 yards per game on offense including 218 passing and 130 rushing yards per game. Cincinnati is #6 in rushing. The Bengals are allowing 358 yards per game on defense including 234 passing and 125 rushing yards. Cincinnati is #22 in total offense and #25 in rush defense. The Bengals are 80/195 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 81/210. Cincinnati has 18 sacks and has allowed 20 this season. The Bengals have allowed 2 defensive touchdowns this season. Cincinnati is -2 in turnovers.
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton has completed 63.4% of his passes for 3,008 yards with 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, plus 51 carries for 136 yards and 4 touchdowns. Running back Jeremy Hill has 177 carries for 877 yards with 8 touchdowns, along with 25 catches for 205 yards. Giovani Bernard has 157 carries for 636 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 31 catches for 248 yards.
Receiver A.J. Green has 61 catches for 959 yards and 6 touchdowns. Mohamed Sanu has 54 catches for 758 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 51 rushing yards and a touchdown pass. Tight end Jermaine Gresham has 50 catches for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is questionable with a toe injury. Five defensive players are listed as questionable or out.
Denver is 9-2 ATS in December, 4-1 in week 16, 7-3 in road games, 1-4-1 in Monday games, and 1-6 on fieldturf. The road team has covered the last 4 games in this series.
Cincinnati is 6-0 ATS against teams with winning road records, 4-0 in week 16, 3-0-1 after passing for less than 150 yards, 8-2 in December, 12-4-1 at home, 7-3 after a straight up win of 14 points or more, 2-5-1 on fieldturf, 1-4-1 after a straight up win, and 1-4 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in this series recently.
Cincinnati quarterback Dalton is 2-6 in career in primetime games with a 19.4 quarterback rating. He will have to play much better or Denver will win easily. Manning is a little gimpy and has struggled by his standards in the last few games. I think he has a breakout performance and Denver wins to wrap up a first round bye.
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