The 4-3 Denver Broncos may be playing the best football right now but their record does not reflect it. At 3-4, the Cincinnati Bengals are spiraling downward and descending in the AFC North.
A win for the Broncos will help create a larger distance in their AFC West lead and a win for the Bengals will keep them in pace with the Steelers and Ravens.
So what is likely to take place at Paul Brown Stadium?
Earlier this week, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis called out quarterback Andy Dalton for lacking as a leader and failing to rally the troops on a consistent basis. Averaging 257 passing yards per game, Dalton will try to respond to his coach's criticism but will ultimately cost his team the game by trying to "do too much" and committing costly turnovers. As a result of his coach's pressure, racking up 300 passing yards in a high pass-attempt count, Dalton will throw three INTs, all leading to points for the Broncos and burying the Bengals in a deep hole.
With that said, do not expect huge numbers from the Broncos' Peyton Manning. With the Broncos defense coming up big, Manning will have a lot of short scoring drives and will simply be handing off the ball by mid 3rd-quarter, trying to kill minutes off the clock and preserve a comfortable lead. Establishing an early cruise-control type of offense, Manning will finish the game with ease, clocking in 265 yards passing with a pair of short TDs and no picks.
Not all the Bengals will be hanging their heads after this one. Wide receiver A.J. Green is averaging 14.5 yards per catch and will give the Broncos secondary all they can handle. Due to an atrocious running game, Dalton will look for Green often and give him many chances to work his magic. Shining in a 31-20 defeat, Green will catch 14 passes for 160 yards and two TDs.