Streak: Won 3
All-time vs. Denver: 8-19
Last time: Broncos, 31-23, Nov. 2012
The Line: N/A. Wild Card: Houston (home) is favored by 4.5
This week we’re taking a first look at the three teams that could come to Denver to face the Broncos in the Divisional Round of the playoffs on January 12th — the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, and Baltimore Ravens. First up: Cincy.
The Cincinnati Bengals are quietly one of the hottest team in the NFL. Winners of their last three games by an average of 10 points, they’ve also won seven of their last eight games — all but a one-point loss to Dallas in Week 14. The Bengals are built on youth and defense, and it was that defense that helped the Bengals enjoy a three-point fourth quarter lead against our very own 11-win-in-a-row Broncos in Week 9.
Who’s hot: Bengals defense. The Bengals defense — ranked sixth overall, 12th against the run and seventh against the pass — has scored a touchdown in three straight games. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins has 12.5 sacks, while defensive end Michael Johnson has 11.5, paving the way for this Bengals defense to set a franchise record in sacks with 51.
Who’s not: Wider receiver A.J. Green. That’s not to say A.J. Green isn’t one of the biggest up-and-coming playmakers in the league — he most certainly is, and he’s utterly dangerous on the field. That “not” is only relative to how Green started the season, and how he’s been playing lately. Scorer of ten touchdowns in nine straight games starting in Week 2, Green only has one touchdown since.
I bring this up mostly to emphasize the next point — Green is due.
Matchup to Watch (should the Bengals advance): Green vs. Champ Bailey. Bailey was effusive with his praise of Green from their last matchup, a showdown of former Bulldogs that saw Green haul nine catches while mostly lining up against the future Hall of Famer. Green’s most impressive catch was this 10-yard touchdown against Bailey — not his first impressive touchdown against the orange and blue.
If these two teams continue to have success in the near future, we may soon find ourselves calling Green “Bronco-killer.”
How they come to Denver: Win and they’re in. The Bengals are the sixth seed, the lowest seed in the playoffs, and since the first seed Broncos will face the lowest winning seed following Wild Card weekend, a Bengals victory guarantees a Broncos rematch, regardless of the result of the other game.
How do you see the Broncos faring should the Bengals come to town? Let us know your thoughts on Cincinnati in the comments.