Cincinnati Bengals (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) at Denver Broncos (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS), Week 2 NFL, Investco Field at Mile High, (Natural Grass) Denver Colorado, Sunday, September 18, 4:15 PM Eastern
By Jeff Hochman, NFL Handicapper, JH-Sportsline
Point Spread: Cincy +3.5/Den -3.5
Over/Under Total: 40
Fresh off a big upset victory, the Cincinnati Bengals travel to the Mile High City for this week 2 matchup against the Denver Broncos.
No Carson Palmer. No Problem. Andy Dalton led TCU to a record 42 wins over the last four years, but he had a rough introduction to the NFL, throwing three interceptions while posting a 30.9 passer rating in the first two preseason games. Dalton was 10-of-15 for 81 yards and one touchdown before leaving Sunday’s game in the first half. Cedric Benson rushed for 121 yards with one touchdown and rookie A.J. Green had his fist receiving touchdown. The Bengals improved to 20-24 in openers, 7-13 on the road.
The Denver Broncos could not get out of their way this past Monday Night. They looked unprepared while committing 3 costly turnovers. The run defense was abysmal as Oakland was able to control the clock for the entire game. Denver is ranked dead last in run defense after the first week of the season. Cedric Benson will be testing the Broncos’ run defense in this game until they can stop him. Kyle Orton threw for over 300 yards but he had a tough night. The fans were chanting Tebow, Tebow, during the game. Tough. Denver’s offensive line is ranked near the bottom after week one. Kyle Orton faced plenty of pressure against the Raiders on Monday night. Orton finished just 2-for-10 when passing under duress or when he was hit while throwing.
The Broncos are suffering from a rash of injuries. Elvis Dumervil, who missed all of the 2010 season with an injury, was available only on obvious passing downs due to a nagging shoulder injury. All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey possibly pulled a hamstring making a touchdown-saving tackle. On offense, key skill players Brandon Lloyd, the teams top receiver, sat out with a groin injury, and top rusher Knowshown Moreno was sidelined with a hamstring pull. Check the status as we get closer to game time.
The Bengals go for their first victory in Denver since 1975 as the Broncos try to avoid their first 0-2 start in 12 years. If rookie quarterback Andy Dalton (?) isn’t healthy enough to play, the team has no doubt that Brad Gradkowski can lead them to a victory. Gradkowski, who started eight games for Oakland over the last two seasons, played the entire second half Sunday. The veteran went 5 for 12 for 92 yards, including a 41-yard, go-ahead score in the fourth quarter to first-round pick A.J. Green on a quick snap that caught the Browns napping.
The key to this game will be Denver’s stop unit. They are small but very quick. Look for the Bengals to line up with two tight-ends and run the ball until the Broncos prove they can stop it. That should set up some nice play-action passes for whoever is at QB. A healthy Champ Baily would really help the Broncos’ chances.
The last time these teams met in the Mile High City, Denver won 24-23 on Dec. 24, 2006, when the Bengals’ 2-point rush failed in the final minute. The Over is 17-5 in Denver’s last 22 games overall. Denver is 110-49 SU but just 77-79 ATS at home since 1993. Cincinnati is 2-11 SU in its last 13 games when playing Denver. Denver is 12-5 ATS at home off a home loss.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Denver Broncos -3.5
Make sure the Broncos get their injured players back for this game. They all are listed as doubtful and/or questionable at press time. Denver can’t play any worse than they did on Monday night or maybe the QB controversy will start once again. Don’t really like the game but I lean to the home team.
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