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The 7-6 Cincinnati Bengals have slipped down into third place in the AFC North after losing two in a row, so to chalk up an AFC win here against the Broncos is critical for Cincy’s survival, but it won’t get any easier for QB Joe Burrow and WR Ja’Marr Chase who must have a big game against Denver’s 7th ranked defense or else the Bengals’ playoff hopes could be all but dashed.
Right now there are five 7-6 AFC teams fighting for a wildcard playoff spot, and the Denver Broncos are one of them, and given that the Bengals are one of the 7-6 teams in front of them this win becomes all the more critical, the perfect chance for QB Teddy Bridgewater to prove he could be the franchise solution under center, his 19th ranked offense needing to step up here.
These two AFC rivals have played each other 32 prior times, with the Denver Broncos winning 22 of those games and the Cincinnati Bengals winning 10 of the games.
Watching this young Cincinnati Bengals team this season, it becomes obvious how improved they are on both sides of the ball now, with second year quarterback Joe Burrow benefitting from a stronger offensive line and a talented receiver corps that is developing every week.
The Bengals offense is ranked 14th overall so far this season after posting almost 360 yards of total offense per game, a squad that has averaged just over 27 points per game, enough to win most matchups if it weren’t for their 17th ranked defense allowing opponents back in games.
Cincinnati will have to play in a hostile Mile High environment so they will battle crowd noise and distractions all game long, and all while facing Denver’s 7th ranked defense, so this is the perfect time for this young Bengals offense to demonstrate how much better they have become.
The Broncos will need their running backs to step up and have a productive game here, not an easy ask given the Bengals are ranked 4th against the rush, but that will be the job of rookie running back Javonte Williams and veteran Melvin Gordon if they expect to win.
The Broncos’ rushing attack is ranked 12th best in the league after averaging just over 123 yards on the ground per game, plus they are an important part of QB Bridgewater’s success as a passer since a solid run game keeps defenses having to defend closer to the box.
This means more open field for the receivers, and together that run / pass combo is tough to defend, a game plan that Denver OC Pat Shurmur is most likely considering, a strategy that also counts on the front line to produce in order for all offensive playmakers to excel.
It is tough to imagine a quarterback just off knee surgery being as productive as Joe Burrow has been for the Bengals, an obvious indicator of his toughness and a clear sign that he is their franchise solution under center for as long as they can afford to keep him in Cincinnati.
Burrow is in his second season, but he missed six games last year due to injury, and this season the 6’ 4” 221 pound LSU alum has stayed healthy and productive, so far completing 284 passes for 3,483 yards and 25 TDs with a league-leading 14 INTs, his team with a 7-6 record.
Watch for Burrow to connect deep with his former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase, the two proving to have the same tight connection in the NFL that they had back in college, the team’s passing attack ranked 11th in the league right now with signs that it’s still evolving.
Now on his fourth NFL team, journeyman QB Teddy Bridgewater is most likely hoping he has found his forever franchise, the 6’ 2” 215-pound scrambler proving to be a handful for defenses as he either hurts them with his solid passing or his ability to get loose and run for a first down.
Bridgewater is a Louisville alum who entered the league in 2014 with the Vikings, and this year with Denver he has proven to be a valuable offensive leader, so far with 273 completions for 2,954 yards and 18 TDs with 7 interceptions on top of 27 carries for 96 yards and 2 TDs.
Keep an eye on Bridgewater’s connections with WR Courtland Sutton and TE Noah Fant, two of his favorite targets who are fast becoming effective generators of yards after the catch, a toughness that old-school head coach Vic Fangio encourages and admires.
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|Bengals vs Broncos Information|
|What||Cincinnati Bengals vs Denver Broncos|
|Where||Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, CO|
|When||Sunday, December 19, 2021; 4:05 PM ET|
|How to watch||CBS|
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