Monday Night Football: Bengals host Broncos in AFC showdown
Denver can claim home-field advantage through the AFC playoffs with a road win against Cincinnati.
There was a time at which one could make the argument that, on a blustery mid-December night on the banks of the Ohio River, the Cincinnati Bengals would be able to bludgeon their way past a pass-happy, defensively challenged Denver Broncos squad. Not anymore.
The Denver team that heads into Paul Brown Stadium for Monday Night Football has undergone a radical evolution over the past month. Instead of depending on Peyton Manning to hang video game numbers every time out, Denver has used a road-grading run game and a hard-nosed defense to reel off four consecutive wins, clinching the AFC West for the fourth straight year and putting themselves in good position for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Over the last three games, the Broncos have averaged just 191 passing yards compared with 153 rushing, and three of their six touchdowns have come on the ground. During that same span, the defense has allowed an average of just 14 points and forced eight total turnovers.
The Bengals, who have won four of their last five and rank in the league’s 10 best in both rushing yards and points allowed, are plenty formidable in their own right. Their rushing defense, however, has been subpar, yielding nearly 125 yards per game. Cincinnati is still trying to win the ultra-competitive AFC North, but perhaps its advantage in late-season outdoor games is now minimal to none — especially against a stout Broncos team.
How to Watch
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Announcers: Jon Gruden, Mike Tirico
Denver is a 3.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 47.5, according to OddsShark.com.