The good news for the Cincinnati Bengals is that they were off last week and have had time to recover from a three-game losing streak. The bad news is that it's the Denver Broncos that will be welcoming the Bengals back into action.
Peyton Manning has returned to MVP-form this season and has the Broncos thinking playoffs while the Bengals are reeling from week-to-week and just trying to stay competitive.
This game is basically a must win for the Bengals. A loss would extend the losing streak to four and put them even further behind Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the AFC North.
The Broncos on the other hand have looked like a well-oiled machine, and will be looking to feed the hype machine surrounding Manning and the team.
Can the Bengals pull off the huge win at home?
Let's take a look at the matchup.
When: Sunday, Nov. 4 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH
TV: CBS (check local listings)
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Listen: Free Football Radio
Spread: Cincinnati +3.5 (Covers)
If this game were in Denver and the Bengals weren't coming off a bye, the line would probably be much higher. However, the Broncos have to make the trip from Colorado to Ohio and the Bengals are coming off of a week of rest.
Peyton Manning is nearly impossible to account for in practice, but the Bengals have had an extra week to do their best to prepare for the cerebral quarterback.
With those two factors going for them, the Bengals should be able to keep this closer than the prognosticators think. The points look like a nice play here.
Over/Under: 47.5 (Covers)
One of the higher totals of the week, Vegas seems to think that this game will be a shootout.
Considering the ability that both teams can bring in the passing game, it could very well turn out to be just that. However, there's also the chance that both offenses wind up in the 20's and come very close to this point total.
Play the over/under if you dare, but this game will be either right above it or right below it, so you do so at your own peril.
Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
|QB||Peyton Manning||Right thumb||Probable
Fantasy Big Plays
Denver: WR Demaryius Thomas
Thomas and Eric Decker have traded the role of leading receiver for the Denver Broncos from week to week. With Manning at the helm there are plenty of yards and touchdowns for both of them.
Thomas is coming off a career game last week. He torched the New Orleans Saints secondary for 19 fantasy points behind 137 yards and a touchdown.
Considering the Bengals' secondary is mediocre at best, it's reasonable to assume that Thomas will be productive once again. He should be on the receiving end of at least one of Manning's touchdown passes in the game.
Projected Stats: 6 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD
Cincinnati: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Green-Ellis hasn't been anything special this season. He's been good for around six points in the last few weeks but nothing more.
Against this no-huddle Broncos offense, the Bengals will need to establish the run to take some control of the game and that means there will be a steady diet of the Law Firm. Outside of a nine carry game against the Miami Dolphins, Green-Ellis has had no less than 16 carries in every game.
There's no doubt that Green-Ellis will get the opportunities, it's just about him maximizing those opportunities. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3 so he's definitely due.
Projected Stats: 20 carries, 80 yards, 1 TD
Key to Victory
Bengals offense vs. Broncos defense
The Bengals can't rely on stopping Peyton Manning. It's just not going to happen—he's on fire right now.
What they can do, is keep the ball out of his hands and try to keep up with them by scoring on long, sustained drives. The Broncos defense has been inconsistent as a group.
At times, they've looked like the elite group that was on the field last season, but got little support from the offense. Other times, they look like a group that absolutely needs the offense to score on every drive.
Whether or not the Broncos can stop the Bengals enough of the time, especially early on to get Manning going, will determine if this game is close or a blowout.
The first quarter will tell us a lot about how this game will play out. The Broncos have been a slow-starting team on a few occasions this season. When they get off to a slow start, they look very beatable.
Once they get that offense humming, they look unstoppable.
If the Bengals are able to establish the running game early and are efficient on offense, they can put the Broncos in a hole and force them to play from behind. Considering their ability to score quickly, an early lead isn't a death sentence for Denver but it does make things interesting.
Expect Cincinnati to come out with a sense of urgency in front of a home crowd. But ultimately this will be another accolade on Manning's MVP resume this season. He leads yet another comeback victory.
Final Score: Denver 24, Cincinnati 21