As for the second half of the regular season, there isn’t a single team that likes their chances when they see the Broncos coming to town. I don’t sound like a very faithful Bengals fan do I? My bad. I hate looking at reality when it includes my team being the underdog. Picking against my team is always the hardest thing to do for a fan such as myself, but unfortunately, I watched the Sunday Night Football contest. You know, the one that had the Broncos manhandle the Saints? Yeah, that one. And it’s giving me nightmares.
I’ll stop there. It’s not like the Bengals don’t have a chance in this game. Lets look at what we’ve got going for us. The D-Line. The Cincinnati Bengals boast one of the best, most underrated defensive lines in football this year, headed by Michael Johnson and the speedy Geno Atkins. If they get pressure on Manning and force him to get the ball out before he wants to, it might give our secondary a chance against Manning’s targets. Mike Zimmer needs to get creative with the coverage schemes, because Peyton has a knack for re-organizing the entire offensive play in three seconds at the line, right before throwing a touchdown pass. (See second half of Denver/San Diego game.)
Other highlights are of course Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. The exceptional duo will have to have more chemistry than they did against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football, and one or two deep completions could go along way in this game. A.J. can’t do it alone though. Dalton is going to have to find other targets, and find them quickly. Jermaine Gresham and Andrew Hawkins are overdue for good games, and just have to find ways to get open. The O-line gives Andy the time, sometimes he’s just a little nervous about using it.
What can we expect to happen on game day? Beats me. I’ve been wrong the last three weeks after all. But like always, I’ll take a guess. I think the Red Rifle has a good game, but I also find it too difficult to pick against the Broncos. Denver comes away with a touchdown to break in the win category late, 27-20. Maybe I’m the only one that thinks so, but it seems to me the Bengals always seem to play to their opponents abilities. Time and time again, I’ve watched them play much better than I expected against teams that were heavily favored. Likewise, many a game, I’ve seen them under-perform against teams they should have defeated with ease, sometimes barely escaping, sometimes not ending up so lucky.
Manning makes a few mistakes and the Bengals offense keeps it close, but a 3-5 record seems too hard to avoid this time around.