Three Keys for the Denver Broncos Versus the Cincinnati Bengals


Dec 14, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) talks in the huddle during the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos play their final road game of the regular season on Monday night when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals. After struggling on the road early in the season, the Broncos have won two straight and can finish the year at 5-3 away from home with a win over the Bengals.

The game versus the Bengals has a strange tone to it for the Broncos. In theory it means something because they still have a shot at the number one seed in the AFC if the New England Patriots were to lose one of their two remaining games. Realistically, however, the Patriots are unlikely to lose to either the New York Jets or Buffalo Bills, and that fact makes the game versus the Bengals almost meaningless. The Broncos do need to win one of their final two games to secure the second-seed but with a home game versus the Oakland Raiders in the final week of the season, the number two seed is all but assured.

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With that said, the Broncos are playing their best all-around football of the season and would like to keep winning heading into the playoffs. Here are the three keys to do just that.

Keep rolling: As just mentioned, the Broncos are playing great football right now. They’ve won their last four games, three by double-digits and their defense is starting to dominate.

There’s no doubt that the Broncos would like to get their passing game going a little more but there’s no reason to change anything. The Bengals might be the perfect team for Peyton Manning and his receivers to get things rolling again. They rank in the middle of the pack in pass defense and have given up a number of big plays.

The receivers are finally all healthy and assuming Manning does not have another bout with the flu, the Broncos should enjoy success through the air. Even if the Broncos are able to throw the ball effectively, it’s important that they keep pounding the running game as well. If they can do both versus the Bengals, then the Broncos will walk out of Cincinnati at 12-3.

Pressure: Bengals quarterback, Andy Dalton has talent but he’s also more up and down than a roller coaster. If the Broncos can stop the run and force Dalton into obvious passing situations, then the mistakes will come.

As greaty as the Broncos defense has been playing in recent weeks, their pass rush has been too inconsistent. If they are going to go deep in the playoffs, then they have to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Dalton has been known to hold onto the ball too long so Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware must take advantage of that fact.

The Bengals are also prone to committing turnovers in “big” games and if the Broncos, who have forced eight turnovers in the past three games, can get a couple on Monday night then they might win in a rout.

Stay healthy: This key is one that you typically see in the preseason but it is applicable here. The Broncos have been bitten by the injury bug in recent weeks but it appears as if they are starting to get healthy at the right time. Even linebacker, Brandon Marshall appears to have avoided serious injury and should be ready for the playoffs.

The Broncos are going to play to win on Monday as they should but any player who is questionable going into the game should be held out, and any player who is injured during the game should be taken out as well.

The truth is the Bengals need this game a lot more than the Broncos and that fact will keep it close. If the Jets pull a miracle and upset the Patriots on Sunday then make no mistake, the Broncos win easy.

If, as expected, the Patriots win then the game on Monday night figures to be a lot tighter. The Bengals will play with desperation and that will keep it close. In the end though, the Broncos are playing too well and simply have more talent.

Prediction: Broncos-27 Bengals-19