Line: Broncos -3

The 9-4-1 Cincinnati Bengals host the 11-3 Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. The Bengals have had the type of season that people have grown to expect from head Coach Marvin Lewis. It isn’t always pretty but this is a team that wins games and is proficient on both sides of the ball. Last week they played the Cleveland Browns who started much-hyped rookie Johnny Manziel at quarterback for the first time. It is clear now that the Bengals defense did not buy into the hype as they shut the Browns out en route to their 30-0 victory. They got out to a 20-0 halftime lead and spent the entire second half chasing Manziel down. Quarterback Andy Dalton had a quiet day going 14/24 for 117 yards with an interception. He was able to take what the defense gave him thanks to the performance of rookie running back Shaun Hill who had 25 carries for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns. Former starting running back Giovanni Bernard also had 15 carries for 79 yards. This dominant ground attack made it easy for the defense to rest in between series. Wide receiver A.J Green had 5 catches for 49 yards but his services were not needed much in this one.

The Broncos continue to roll along despite reports of a decline in the arm strength of quarterback Peyton Manning. As always, reports of the demise of Manning have been greatly exaggerated as he went 14/20 for 233 yards and a touchdown in last weeks 22-10 Broncos win over the Chargers. He did this despite needing four bags of intravenous fluids between Saturday Night and Sunday morning. He also took a hit in the game, while making a poor attempt to throw a block, and that caused him to miss a few series. Manning’s toughness is not lost on his teammates, as they made sure to do everything they could to make life easier for the veteran signal caller. Running back C.J Anderson got word earlier in the week that fellow running back Montee Ball would be out for the season, which puts him in position to receive the majority of the carries for the remainder of the season. He responded with 29 carries for 85 tough yards. Wide receiver Demarius Thomas had another big day with 6 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. The win was the Broncos fourth straight and they are now tied with the Patriots for the AFC’s best record. The tiebreaker would go to New England since they won the head to head matchup on 11/2.

This sets up for an interesting matchup. History does not bode well for the Bengals as they haven’t won in primetime and are winless all time against Peyton Manning. The Bengals defense excels in run defense and it will be interesting to see if the Broncos are forced to pass the ball more often. They have been a predominant run team over the course of their four game winning streak. The Bengals 2 headed rushing attack will be a good test for the Broncos run defense.

Pick: Broncos -3

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