The Broncos fly east for their final early game of the season with stars aligning at the right time after their early-season struggles.
Back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and the Pittsburgh Steelers have given Broncos Country hope that the season can be salvaged as they sit at 5-6 and facing a favorable schedule down the stretch.
Broncos Europe TV’s Michael McQuaid and Colum Cronin join Ben
How much of a banana skin game is this for the Broncos?
Michael: It’s arguable that every game from here is a banana skin game for this Broncos team. That said, Cincinnati has a number of offensive weapons and while they are suffering one of their worst seasons in memory in regards to injuries, they are still a threat.
This game is one where the Broncos need to get in, get the W and get out.
Colum: Although the Broncos have finally found some rhythm and beaten two serious contenders in the past two weeks, memories of the team’s struggles should be fresh enough that it shouldn’t be a banana peel game.
Ben: The Broncos are on a roll after defeating two playoff teams in the last two weeks, there’s talk of a playoff push, and they’re clear favorites to win this game.
But there’s something about the Broncos in what is an 11:00 game Denver time, with Vance Joseph’s poor record on the road, against a team that has been without one of the NFL’s best receivers in AJ Green in recent weeks and lost their franchise quarterback last week.
The Bengals defense has also been a shambles at times and now, more than ever, need to help the offense.
This team still isn’t too far removed from the team that was embarrassed by the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers last year or the New York Jets this year. If they get complacent, they could be in trouble.Embed from Getty Images
Key match ups?
Colum: Jeff Driskel vs his nerves in his first start.
Broncos run defense vs Joe Mixon
Ben: The focus might be on Von Miller and Bradley Chubb chasing down Jeff Driskel, but when they don’t get the job done watch out for dynamic slot receiver Tyler Boyd and premier receiver AJ Green going up against Chris Harris Jr and Bradley Roby.
Boyd has been one of the NFL’s best third-down receivers and we all know what Green is capable of, but Harris Jr has two interceptions in the last two games, while Roby — aside from allowing a 97-yard score to JuJu Smith-Schuster — has found some form in recent weeks.
Michael: It’s going to be important to see how backup QB Jeff Driskel performs against Von Miller.
Von has already described Driskel as a “very quick” player and he needs to continue to play his best to ensure that the Bengals do not capitalize on Sunday.
Aside from Phillip Lindsay, who needs a big game for the Broncos to win?
Colum: Von Miller and Bradley Chubb need to get to Driskel. The Bengals have injuries on their line and, with a new QB making his first NFL start, it should be feeding time for the league’s premier pass rush duo.
Royce Freeman. The Bengals have struggled against the run all season, the Broncos should seek to exploit that on Sunday.
Michael: Emmanuel Sanders needs to continue to perform and go up another level in order for this offense to maximise its potential.
With a good performance last week against Pittsburgh, Sanders will want to improve further going into the final stretch of the season.
Ben: The defense will feast on the chance to get after a quarterback making his first NFL start, so it all comes down to Case Keenum. Sure, he might not put up the flashy numbers that other quarterbacks have, but he just needs to play smart.
He’s looked a lot more assured in the last two games and the Broncos might be facing one of the league’s worst passing defenses, but that doesn’t give him license to sling it around like he’s back at Houston.
Ben: Is it too hopeful to see a repeat of the Arizona game? Broncos dominate and grab a 38-17 win.
Michael: Broncos win 31-10.
Broncos Europe will host a watch party for the Bengals game in Manchester at the Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes. Tickets are still available.