Bengals versus Broncos Will Be Decided in the Trenches
Dec 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coachMarvin Lewis
versus the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals won 30-0. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Football teams are generally known for their offensive and defensive weapons, but more often than not, games are decided in the “trenches.” Monday’s game will be no different as the Bengals and Broncos both possess quality offensive lines and dangerous weapons along the defensive line.
This year, both the Bengals and Broncos rank as some of the best teams when it comes to keeping their quarterbacks on their feet. According to Team Rankings, the Broncos actually rank first in the NFL allowing Peyton Manning to only be sacked once per game. This while the Bengals have allowed Andy Dalton to be sacked on average 1.4 times per game. The Broncos have been even more impressive lately when lowering that number to only 0.7 times per game over their last three games while conversely, the Bengals have allowed that number to spike to 2.3 times per game over the same span; a worrisome trend heading into Monday night’s pivotal matchup.
If the Bengals are to win, they are going to have to “buck” the trend here and find a way to get pressure onto Peyton Manning. Allowing Manning to sit back and read the defense throughout the night is a recipe for disaster. But that won’t be the only trend the Bengals will have to overcome. This year, the defense hasn’t resembled the one fans have come to expect as they rank second to last in total sacks with just 18. It’s not the evidence of an ability to win this game that fans would want.
Yet despite this pitiful stat, the Bengals still have the necessary pieces to get pressure onto Manning. Carlos Dunlap has performed extremely well this year regardless of how the rest of the defense is doing. This while the Bengals still have Geno Atkins who has the ability to disrupt an offensive line quickly. But more than these two players stepping up, Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther really must bear most of the responsibility here. He must find a way to get pressure on Manning regardless of whether the defense is able to bring Manning to the ground. They simply cannot afford Manning more time than he needs as this defense is best when employing the “bend but don’t break” approach. Limiting Manning’s impact on individual plays can keep the Broncos’ offense from getting big plays and keep this game as a low-scoring affair. It’ll be a key goal for the Bengals if they want an opportunity to win their final home game of the regular season.
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On the other side of this equation, there is a more encouraging sign for the Bengals in this matchup. The Bengals may have allowed more sacks recently, but the offensive line is still one of the best in the NFL. This week they’ll face what is probably the second-most difficult matchup of the year for them. The Broncos pass-rushing duo of DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller ranks as one of the league’s most productive in the league. In fact, their combined total of 23 sacks ranks third in the league amongst pass-rushing duos. Yet, the Bengals have dealt well with similar situations this year. In two matchups against the league’s best duo of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, who have a combined 28 sacks, the Bengals have allowed them just one sack and one QB hit on the year. Equally as important as applying pressure to Peyton Manning, if the Bengals are to give themselves a chance to put points on the board come Monday night, keeping Ware and Miller from disrupting Andy Dalton will be key.
What will also be key for the Bengals is blocking well while running the ball. The Broncos will be without several key linebackers this week, which helps the Bengals’ chances, yet the Broncos still possess a big run-stopper in Terrance Knighton. The Bengals must find a way to move the Broncos line backwards and allow Jeremy Hill to continue running effectively. It’ll help to put points on the board while also keeping Manning and Co. off the field.
There’s little doubt that Monday night will be an uphill battle for the Bengals. They’ve performed poorly against quality competition this year and have much to prove this week. This the Bengals are to win this pivotal matchup, they’ll need to find a way to dominate the “trenches” and allow Andy Dalton proper time while simultaneously, limiting Peyton Manning’s ability to pick apart the defense.