Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals (-3, 41.5 o/u)
Everyone here at SBD has their biases. As we mentioned on this week’s oddcast, my allegiances lie with the Bengals (1-1, 0-1-1 ATS). My colleague Matt’s lie with the Broncos (2-0, 2-0 ATS). It’s been a tense week around the office, as a result. Come Monday, one of us will have season-long bragging rights to lord over the other; it all depends on who emerges victorious from Denver’s battle with Cincy at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday (1:00 PM Eastern).
I haven’t been shy about my dislike of this matchup for Cincinnati. They’ve been a solid bet at home over the last couple years, but this isn’t the same team without WRs Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu (both of whom left via free agency) and TE Tyler Eifert (who remains sidelined). The ostensible strength of the offense, the line, has been suspect through two weeks, giving up seven sacks to the Jets and leading the rushing attack to just 2.8 YPC (second-worst mark in the league).
With Denver’s unparalleled front-seven coming to town, it’s going to be more of the same. Andy Dalton is going to be pressured (even with DeMarcus Ware out). Jeremy Hill is going to get stuffed.
The Bengals were able to get by the Jets in Week 1 (23-22) thanks to a monster game from AJ Green (180 receiving yards, one TD). He’ll now be matched-up with Chris Harris Jr., one of the best corners in the league.
It’s hard to envision how Cincy will move the ball. Screen passes to Gio Bernard might be the best bet.
The Bronco offense is apt to have its own struggles, of course. The team is coming off a 34-20 win over the Colts, but 14 of those points came from the defense. Trevor Siemian (10/17 for 122 yards, one TD, one INT) did not look great against an undermanned Indy secondary. (Undermanned is an understatement; Indy was down its top five cornerbacks at one point.)
Adam Jones and the talented Cincy secondary should be able to contain the passing game, allowing the front-seven to focus on stopping CJ Anderson and the Bronco run-game.
In sum, I see this game being dominated by the defenses. That’s going to make it a low-scoring affair that likely comes down to turnovers. Whichever defense generates more takeaways, and puts its offense on short fields, should lead its team to a W.
The Broncos D had 27 takeaways last season compared to Cincy’s 28. But the Bengals saw the league’s interception leader Reggie Nelson depart for Oakland. Edge Denver. I also see Gary Kubiak coming in with a much more conservative game-plan than Marvin Lewis, protecting against the possibility of Siemian literally throwing the game away. Edge Denver again.
You can see where this is going.
Pick: Denver (+3).
Photo credit: emeybee [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.