The Cincinnati Bengals figure to still be in the playoff mix despite a rough Week 2 loss, while the Denver Broncos are undefeated heading into their Week 3 showdown. Both teams could answer a lot of questions with a strong performance this week.
Last week, the Bengals had a much-anticipated showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who beat them in a memorable playoff game last season. Despite a strong game plan that shut down Antonio Brown (just four catches for 39 yards), Cincinnati's offense failed to generate many yards and succumbed to a 24-16 loss.
The running game was the biggest culprit in the Bengals' loss, with Jeremy Hill getting just 22 yards on 11 carries and Giovani Bernard rushing five times for 17 yards. Andy Dalton was forced to throw the ball 54 times, which is less than ideal even if Dalton is showing that his 2015 career year wasn't a fluke. In addition, A.J. Green was held in check by Pittsburgh with just two catches on eight targets. The Bengals dearly miss Tyler Eifert's red zone presence, but he's not expected to make his return this week.
The Broncos' decision to go with Trevor Siemian under center seems to be paying off for now. Siemian is playing his role well as a workmanlike game manager, letting C.J. Anderson and the defense do all the heavy lifting. Denver beat the Indianapolis Colts last week, 34-20, with two defensive touchdowns making the difference. Aqib Talib scored on a pick-six off Andrew Luck, while Shane Ray returned a fumble 15 yards to the house. At some point the Broncos will probably need more production from their offense, but their Super Bowl-winning game plan (count on the defense to win games) appears to still be a solid strategy in 2016.
Despite last week's loss, the Bengals are heavy favorites among online experts to beat the Broncos. Six out of seven ESPN writers picked them, along with seven of eight at CBS Sports. Here at SB Nation, it's a similar split -- seven writers and the OddsShark computer picked Cincinnati, with Jeanna Thomas being the only one predicting Denver will win.
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