Monday Night Football hopes to close out 2015 with a bang when the Denver Broncos host the Cincinnati Bengals in the show's season finale. After weeks of subpar matchups, this week's game looks to be a thrilling one with lots of playoff implications.
The Bengals are 11-3, still trying to hold off the surging Pittsburgh Steelers. They can clinch both the AFC North title and a first-round bye with a win. The Broncos are 10-4 and still trying to answer some questions.
Cincinnati is down to AJ McCarron at quarterback after losing Andy Dalton to a broken thumb. McCarron had a workmanlike performance against the San Francisco 49ers, throwing for 192 yards and a touchdown on 15-of-21 passing. He'll have a much tougher test against the Broncos' top-ranked defense, and he will have to do it without tight end Tyler Eifert, who is out with a concussion. The Bengals' best bet will be to get Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard going again -- the two running backs combined for just 68 rushing yards last week.
The Broncos are starting Brock Osweiler again with Peyton Manning still nursing a foot injury, but one starts to wonder how long they can keep going with him. Osweiler melted down in the second half of last week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Denver blew a 27-10 lead en route to a 34-27 loss. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs have caught up to the Broncos, sitting just one game behind in the standings. A first-round bye looked like a sure thing for the Broncos just one month ago -- now they can conceivably finish 11-5 and still miss the playoffs. The lesson: nothing is a sure thing in the NFL.
How to watch
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.
Announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
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