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NFL Betting: Broncos vs. Bengals Monday Night Football Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 12/22/2014 4:14:21 PM

The Denver Broncos got through a tough game last Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. Having played a game in a warm-weather climate, though, the Broncos now go to a cold-weather scene in Cincinnati.

Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals – Monday, December 22

These teams are trying to set themselves up for a playoff run, the key difference being that the Broncos are already in the playoffs as division champions, while the Bengals have a lot of work to do to make the playoffs. Denver clinched the AFC West on Sunday with a victory over the San Diego Chargers. Peyton Manning absorbed a thigh injury while trying to make a block, and he played the game with flu-like symptoms as well. Yet, he avoided big mistakes and toughed out a win for Denver, which took a very big step toward getting one of the two first-round byes in the AFC playoffs.

What’s going to be hard to predict about this game is how badly the Broncos are going to go for it. Denver knows that regardless of the result of this game, it can beat the Oakland Raiders at home the following week and clinch that first-round bye. The issue for Denver will be if the Broncos can pass the New England Patriots for the top seed in the AFC playoffs. If New England beats the New York Jets on Sunday, Denver will know that New England would just have one more obstacle to deal with in week 17, the Buffalo Bills. Seeing New England beat the Jets on Sunday might make Denver step off the gas pedal, especially since Manning is not 100 percent healthy. The Broncos could go a little bit easier in this game and not try all-out to win. If the Jets upset New England, of course, this game would mean everything to the Broncos, but you shouldn’t expect the Jets to beat the Patriots with a lot on the line.

This game definitely means everything for the Bengals, regardless of anything that might happen on Sunday in week 16. Cincinnati has a half-game lead over Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the AFC North. The Bengals also play Pittsburgh in week 17, so they would love to be a game and a half ahead of the Steelers if Pittsburgh does lose to Kansas City. If Pittsburgh and Baltimore both win on Sunday, the Bengals would still like to remain half a game in front, especially in regard to the Ravens, who would still have to play the Cleveland Browns in week 17. The Bengals would have value in winning against Denver so that they could gain leverage over other AFC playoff contenders (such as San Diego and Kansas City) even if Pittsburgh and Baltimore continue to apply pressure in the division.

This game really boils down to two things: Will the Broncos go all-out and will the Bengals be good enough to beat Denver if Peyton Manning is reasonably healthy? The best answer is probably yes, the Broncos will take this game seriously. That being the case, as long as Manning is better than he was against San Diego, the Broncos should be able to win.

Pick: Broncos -3

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