Denver: The Broncos come off a big win on Sunday Night Football over the New Orleans Saints, pushing their record to 4-3 and in sole possession of first place in the AFC West.
Peyton Manning meanwhile is 5th in passing yardage, 3rd in TDs, and 1st in QB rating; so much for him not being healthy.
Now Manning takes his superior passing on the road to Cincinnati, to face a Bengals defense ranked 13th against the pass. Of course, the Bengals have yet to really face a QB as efficient as Manning, and any quarterback that is even close (Roethlisberger, Flacco, RGIII) has shredded them. Look for the same or more from Manning.
Quietly, Willis McGahee is having a top 10 type of year, having rushed for 554 yards 4 TDs, and a healthy 4.5 ypc. The Bengals rank only 20th against the rush, and on the road look for the Broncos to put more emphasis on the run to control the game.
With Manning being on fire as of late, both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are pretty much every week starts. Thomas specifically is taking on the look of the next big elite WR in the league, and the Bengals just flat out don’t have anyone that can stop him.
Good Start: QB Peyton Manning, RB Willis McGahee, WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Eric Decker
Middle of the Road: TE Jacob Tamme
Bad Start: WR Brandon Stokley, TE Joel Dreessen
Cincinnati: The Bengals come off of their bye week having lost three straight games; this after having won three straight. So the question is, which Bengals team is the real one? I’d have to lean more toward the one that lost three straight, as those teams were a little better competition (Steelers, Dolphins, and the Browns with Weeden having a little more experience).
The problem has been with the Bengals' running game, as they’re a team that has predicated itself on running effectively and using the play action pass. With BenJarvus Green-Ellis sporting a paltry 3.4 ypc, he’s just not getting the job done enough for teams to sell out against the run.
This puts more pressure on Andy Dalton to win games, and its showing. Dalton is averaging over 260 yards per game, but he also has 10 INTs in 7 games, which ties him for 2nd behind only Tony Romo.
The one thing that has been working for the Bengals is AJ Green, who’s tied for first in TDs with 7, and is 6th in yards per game with just over 90. Even against Champ Bailey, he remains a must-start.
Good Start: WR A.J. Green
Middle of the Road: QB Andy Dalton, WR Andrew Hawkins, TE Jermaine Gresham
Bad Start: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis