Broncos Playoffs Hopes Rest On Taming The Bengals

Written By Ian St. Clair on 12/13/2021
Justin Simmons Demaryius Thomas tribute

The last five seasons have been some of the worst in Denver Broncos history.

The Broncos have struggled to win games and remain relevant in the NFL. It’s been a dramatic fall from the top for this franchise. Just five years ago Denver won its third Super Bowl.

Cue the, “It’s been 84 years,” gif from the movie “Titanic.” That’s how long it’s felt since that magical day.

Now comes the biggest Broncos (7-6) game since Super Bowl 50.

A de facto playoff game this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals (7-6).

Bengals vs Broncos odds

A win at Mile High on Sunday puts Denver in a good spot. Heck, a great spot. When you consider the rest of the Broncos’ schedule, this is a must-win game for Denver.

A loss to the Bengals may not eliminate the Broncos from the playoffs, but it becomes incredibly difficult. After Cincinnati, Denver faces the Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.

In somewhat of a surprise, the Broncos odds have them favored to win on Sunday. Denver is the current -point favorite over the Bengals. This may be an instance where home-field advantage may have swayed the line. It’ll be interesting to see if that number moves one way or the other as the game gets closer.

The other popular NFL betting play is the total. That market is currently sitting at for Sunday’s game.

For those curious, the under is 10-3 in Broncos games this season. The over hit in Sunday’s 38-10 win over the Detroit Lions.

How the Broncos win

There’s no secret sauce for Vic Fangio and Denver on Sunday.

If the Broncos want to get their biggest win in five years, they must run the football and dominate on defense. Basically, how Denver has played in most of the games its won this season, most recently against the Lions.

Obviously, Joe Burrow and the Bengals are not Detroit.

But that’s how the Broncos have to play.

If they can run the ball with Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams, that sets up Teddy Bridgewater to make plays in the passing game. But it’s all predicated on the running game.
Not only does it set up the rest of the Denver offense, it keeps Burrow and that dangerous Bengals offense on the sideline.

Dominate on defense

The Broncos defense must play with the same emotion and fierceness it did against Detroit. Denver just dominated on defense. While a similar performance is asking a bit much, that’s how this defense can slow down Cincy.

The Broncos have a great chance if they can get interior pressure in the run and pass game and contain Joe Mixon and pound Burrow. That pressure also leads to eventual turnovers and in a huge game like this, the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game.

The other factor to consider is the special teams.

Denver absolutely stinks in this area, so the hope is to not have it ruin the game. And it absolutely can.

It’s been five years since the Broncos played in a game this meaningful.

When it comes to the playoffs, they start this Sunday.

And who knows, perhaps the emotion from the passing of Demaryius Thomas can motivate this team to go on a run.

Photo by AP / Jack Dempsey
Ian St. Clair Avatar
Written by
Ian St. Clair

Ian St. Clair is an award-winning sports journalist. He is a University of Northern Colorado graduate, Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. Ian does a weekly Broncos segment each Saturday on Klahr and Kompany on Denver radio station ESPN 1600 AM.

View all posts by Ian St. Clair