Bengals vs. Broncos: Two Elite Defenses Make 'Under' 40 Our NFL Pick

Ted Sevransky

Monday, December 28, 2015 7:07 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 28, 2015 7:07 PM UTC

Our Monday Night Football match between Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos will set the perfect scenario for our NFL handicapper to provide us with his NFL pick on the total.

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NFL Pick: Under 40
Best Line Offered: at Bovada


Monday Night Football Betting Preview
We’ve got two elite defenses, one of which is coming off arguably their single worst performance of the season. We’ve got two young, inexperienced quarterbacks, both of whom started the season as backups. We’ve got frigid December conditions in Denver tonight, with gametime temperatures expected in the teens and wind chills near zero. And we’ve got a pair of coaches who have been quite content to burn clock with a lead, as opposed to ‘going for the jugular’ on offense. Put those four factors together and the case for a relatively low scoring defensive struggle on Monday Night is perfectly clear.

Make no mistake about it – the Broncos defense is truly elite, and they are coming to play tonight after allowing three second half touchdown drives in their loss to the Steelers last week.  Even after last week’s second half meltdown, the Broncos still rank #1 in the NFL, allowing only 4.4 yards per play.  They are #1 against the run, holding backs to just 3.2 yards per carry.  They are #2 against the pass, holding opposing QB’s to a 77.6 rating.  Half of their opponents have been held to 15 points or less, and their only two bad defensive games in recent weeks have come against Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.

Meanwhile, Denver’s offense has been spotty at best.  They snapped a string of 24 consecutive drives without a touchdown in the first half against the Steelers, but were held scoreless after halftime.  Brock Osweiler has been limited in practice with a shoulder injury (non-throwing arm) and he hasn’t averaged seven yards per pass attempt in any of his last four contests.  Opposing defensive coordinators have plenty of film on Osweiler now; a QB we can expect to regress before he improves.  And given the Broncos continued weakness on the offensive line, their running game isn’t reliable enough to take the pressure off Osweiler against a top notch defense here.

Cinci’s defense is almost as good as Denver’s, particularly against the pass, when Marvin Lewis once again is fielding an elite level secondary.  Since their bye week back in Week 7, six of the Bengals last eight foes have been held to two TD’s or less – only Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer were able to carve this defense up.  Brock Osweiler cannot be mentioned in the same breath with those two elite signal callers.  

The Bengals offense is a very different animal with AJ McCarron behind center instead of Andy Dalton.  Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson called an extremely conservative game in Cinci’s win at San Francisco last week.  Once the Bengals took a lead, they didn’t ask McCarron to do anything except burn clock.  McCarron is holding the ball too long, taking four sacks last week; three after replacing Dalton the previous week.  And this is, by far, the toughest defense McCarron has seen as an NFL starting QB.  Expect punts and field goals to rule the game tonight.  Take the Under as your NFL pick against the NFL odds.

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