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Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals Predictions, Odds, Picks and Betting Preview – December 22, 2014

Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals Predictions, Odds, Picks and Betting Preview – December 22, 2014

The AFC West title belongs once again to the Denver Broncos (11-3), who overpowered a game San Diego Chargers to win the franchise’s fourth-straight division championship. Although the Broncos have locked in a playoff spot, they still have to take their matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1) seriously if they have plans of gaining home-field advantage in the postseason.

You can also check out our complete previews of Seahawks vs. Cardinals here and of Colts vs. Cowboys here.

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Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview and Prediction

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati

When: Monday, December 22, 8:30 PM ET

Line: Denver Broncos (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5); total: 48.0 – see all NFL lines

Betting on the Denver Broncos

Even a less-than-100-percent healthy Peyton Manning is enough to beat a playoff contender. That’s what the future Hall-of-Famer proved on Sunday, when he played sick and still powered the Broncos to a 22-10 victory against the San Diego Chargers. With another division title in the bag, the Broncos will now head to Cincinnati for their last road game of the regular season.

[sc:NFL240banner ]Against the Chargers, Manning completed 14 of 20 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown without an interception. Demaryius Thomas did his best to make life easy for Manning, as the wide receiver repeatedly dusted off San Diego’s defense to catch six of the quarterback’s 11 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Another week of rest should put Manning back to his top form, which doesn’t sound good for the Bengals’ defense that allows 233.6 passing yards per game.

Manning’s heroics aside, the Broncos also have the backfield to thank for in their win against the Chargers. Led by C.J. Anderson, who rushed for 85 yards, Denver muscled its way through the Chargers’ defense for a total of 111 rushing yards. Overall, Denver ran 39 rushing plays, with Anderson receiving a bulk of the workload with 29 carries.

Denver’s ability to generate a lot of yards through passing or rushing poses a big threat for the Bengals’ defense, which hasn’t shown any semblance of consistency throughout the season. Cincinnati is 20th in the NFL in total yards allowed per game with 358.4.

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Betting on the Cincinnati Bengals

Coming off a huge 42-21 loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14, the Bengals weren’t going to allow themselves become sacrificial lambs for Johnny Manziel’s first career start. Instead, they turned the script around and stopped the rookie’s hype train dead on its tracks, as Cincinnati handed the Cleveland Browns a 30-0 defeat.

Done with a spring chicken in Manziel, the Bengals will now have to find a way to defang Denver’s offense—one that is propelled by a savvy veteran in Peyton Manning.

Against the Browns, Cincinnati’s pass rush had an easy time blowing past Manziel’s protection. The Bengals sacked Manziel three times for a loss of 26 yards. Manning, however, has a much more stringent offensive line than that of Cleveland’s.

Manning has been sacked just three times over the Broncos’ last four games, which included matchups against some of the NFL’s best pass rushing teams in the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. With that in mind, the Bengals’ secondary will have to step up and give Manning’s targets a hard time getting open.

The success of the Bengals’ defense against Cleveland, however, shouldn’t take away the limelight off Jeremy Hill. The former LSU running back went off for 148 rushing yards and two touchdowns versus the Browns. Cincinnati clearly had a decided game plan of running the ball down Cleveland’s throat, as the Bengals had 45 rushing attempts as against 24 passing plays.

Andy Dalton, however, should see more time throwing the ball next Monday against Denver’s rushing defense that’s 10th in DVOA as of Week 14. Dalton threw for only 117 yards (14-for-24) without a touchdown and zero interceptions in the Browns game.

The over is 4-1 in the Bengals’ last four home games.

Writer’s Prediction

Denver (-3.5) wins, 32-20.

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Written by Rex

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