Week 9: Denver Broncos At Cincinnati Bengals
- QuarterbackPeyton Manning seems to have taken complete hold the Broncos offense and the team may be ready to claim a spot as one of the upper-echelon teams in the AFC. Not only is Manning throwing the ball better than he has all year – he completed 22-of-30 passes for 305 yards and 3 TDs and no interceptions vs. New Orleans – he is leading the offense in much the same way he did with the Colts in his prime.The Bengals have struggled in recent weeks, having lost their last three games before the bye. While they are facing one of the hottest teams in the league, they have a solid offense on paper led by quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton has size, strength, a good arm, a quick release and he is an accurate passer. Now it’s time for him to execute at his best.
- OffenseThe Broncos are not going to let Manning do everything on his own. They have a powerful ground game, led by Willis McGahee who finishes every run and punishes tacklers. Wide receiver Eric Decker is quick, athletic and he runs fine routes. Demaryius Thomas is also improving. No longer just an athlete, he is becoming a stellar receiver under Manning’s direction.The Bengals are also going to try to establish their running game. Like McGahee, BenJarvus Green-Ellis gives everything he has on every carry, but he is not quite as punishing as the Denver running back. Wide receiver A.J. Green (7 TDs) is a brilliant athletic talent who can make the tough catches. Andrew Hawkins has speed to burn and can make the game-breaking catch.
- DefenseThe Broncos are coming off one of the best defensive games in recent memory. They held Saints All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees to 213 yards and the Saints’ ground game was non-existent. The Broncos were superb in coverage and that means that kudos must go to Champ Bailey, who still excels at all aspects of the game. He had six tackles. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard was exceptional with 13 tackles, 1.0 sack, a forced fumble and an interception.The Bengals are going to make it tough on the Broncos to get their ground game going. Cincinnati’s interior run defense is tough to dent. Domata Peko and Geno Atkins are dominant in the middle of the defensive line. Atkins also has a team-leading 7.0 sacks. Linebacker Rey Maualuga has a team-leading 58 tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Broncos like what they get from Britton Colquitt. The punter averaged 46.4 yards on five punts against the Saints and placed three inside the 20. Matt Prater is a consistent kicker who was perfect on his two attempts against New Orleans.The Bengals are doing a solid job on special teams. Mike Nugent has made 11-of-12 field goal attempts, although he has yet to try a three-point from 50 yards or beyond. Adam Jones is focused when he is asked to return punts. He has brought one back for a touchdown this year.
The Bengals are coming off their bye week and they will need a sharp performance to slow down the Broncos, who are coming off a one-sided victory over the Saints. Manning is performing better each week and McGahee plays with maximum effort and gets every inch out of his runs. The Bengals have the home-field advantage, but everything else is going Denver’s way.