Bengals vs. Broncos Odds, Predictions, Picks: Back Joe Burrow & Cincy To Cover As Week 15 Road Dogs?
Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
- Bengals vs. Broncos odds haven't moved much since our analyst wrote the following betting preview for Sunday's NFL Week 15 matchup.
- The spread has held on Broncos -3 and the over/under on 43.5 to 44 points, so where's the value on this game?
- Our analyst makes the case for betting on the underdog Bengals to cover on the road.
|Time||4:05 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
Cincinnati suffered another difficult loss on Sunday. After fighting back from a 20-6 deficit, the Bengals still fell in an overtime defeat as San Francisco marched right back and scored the walk-off touchdown for a 26-23 win.
Now, Cincinnati’s margin for error is getting smaller if it hopes to make the playoffs. The Bengals’ next four games all come against teams competing for postseason spots. They will need to start finishing games like the one against the 49ers if they hope to not be on the outside looking in at the end of the regular season.
While Cincinnati played a tight one last week, Denver got a nice confidence boost against the Detroit Lions. The Broncos completely dominated the game on both side, cruising to a 38-10 victory.
Just like the Cincinnati though, Denver is heading into a stretch of games against playoff contenders and needs to be sharp if it’s hoping to sneak in. Taking down a team currently tied with it in the standings would be an excellent start to their end-of-season push.
A win would go a long way for both of these sides in terms of improving their playoff odds. Let’s dig deeper to see who might get that edge.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Bengals vs. Broncos Injury Report
- CB Chidobe Awuzie (foot): Out
- OT Riley Reiff (ankle): Out
- DT Isaiah Prince (illness): Out
- CB Vernon Hargreaves III (illness): Out
- LB Logan Wilson (shoulder): Out
- LB Markus Bailey (neck): Questionable
- ILB Kenny Young (concussion): Doubtful
- DE Dre’Mont Jones (foot): Doubtful
- T Bobby Massie (hip): Questionable
- S Kareem Jackson (back): Questionable
- S Caden Sterns (shoulder/neck): Questionable
- RB Melvin Gordon III (thumb/hip): Questionable
- DE Shelby Harris (ankle): Questionable
- RB Javonte Williams (knee): Questionable
- CB Nate Hairston (neck): Questionable
Bengals vs. Broncos Matchup
|Bengals Offense||DVOA Rank||Broncos Defense|
|Bengals Defense||DVOA Rank||Broncos Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Bengals Need to Let Burrow Cook
Last week, we saw both the good and the bad the Bengals had to offer. In terms of the good, their offense has been highly effective at moving the ball, getting into scoring range six times. The defense also showed its toughness in the fourth quarter, forcing quick punts that helped keep the Bengals in things.
As for the bad, the conservative play calling by head coach Zac Taylor is all that held Cincinnati back. This might only be one point, but it’s critical to the Bengals now and in the future. They settled for two field goals on fourth-and-short deep in 49ers’ territory. Then in overtime, they played to settle for a field goal after breaking into San Francisco’s red zone.
For most teams, playing conservative is out of necessity; not by choice. Cincinnati is not one of those teams. The Bengals have loads of young talent across their offense and a receiving group so deep no defense can match up. Until Taylor puts more faith in his young playmakers, this team will not reach its potential.
Defensively, the Bengals have been the perfectly average team. They’re 16th in yards per game, 17th in points per contest and 15th in turnovers. Against Denver, the key will be stopping the run. The Bengals have been good in this department of late, as three of their past four opponents have been held under 80 yards.
Broncos Must Lean on Run Game
Since their bye, the Broncos offense has hit its stride. The difference has been how well they’ve been able to run the ball. In their past three games, they’re up to 161.7 yards per game. That’s a big jump from their 111.5 yards on average through their first 10 games.
The improved rushing attack has helped quarterback Teddy Bridgewater play more in his comfort zone. In the two games the Broncos rushing attack got them an early lead, Bridgewater completed 67% of his passes, finishing with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The only game Denver called on Bridgewater to carry the load was against the Kansas City Chiefs. You could see the discomfort and it led to two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
This has been the struggle all year for Denver. Once they are down, they struggle to come back. Per Pro-Football-Reference, eight of the Broncos’ nine interceptions have come when trailing.
Denver’s defense is the reason the offense has been able to play its conservative style. The Broncos currently rank 18th in yards allowed per drive, but third in points allowed per drive. It is a classic bend-but-don’t-break style of defense.
Their defense is bolstered by its ability to play on high-leverage plays. On fourth down, the Broncos have the second-best prevention rate. In the red zone, Denver is ranked eighth. That will be tested against the Bengals’ eighth-ranked red-zone offense.
Bengals vs. Broncos Predictions
Despite being just a game over .500, the Broncos have had all but one game end with less than a touchdown difference. This implies they’re great with a lead and terrible when playing from behind. Essentially, if Bridgewater can play within structure, he has no problems leading the offense. When he’s forced to put the team on his shoulders and make plays, the offense can fall apart.
On the other side, Joe Burrow has not seen a dramatic difference in his play given the game situation, per Pro-Football-Reference. We even saw him answer the call last week and score 17 consecutive points after trailing by two touchdowns.
Both offenses prefer a conservative style and will have no problem running the clock as long as it’s a one-score game. This means the game will come down to whichever team can make a couple of big plays or have the one late-game drive to win.
Knowing these quarterbacks and how they have done in close games, the only answer is to trust Burrow and the Bengals. We’ve seen the big-play capability this offense has thanks to Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase. Plus, we’ve seen Burrow lead game-winning drives this year. Heck, against the Green Bay Packers, he did it like five times if his kicker could have made just one kick.
I know Cincinnati is on the road but in an evenly matched game, I can get three points and the better quarterback? I will take that any day.
Pick: Bengals +3 | Bet to: +1.5
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