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Broncos, Bengals look to complete NFL Playoff Puzzle

by Jeff Allen of Jeff Allen Sports

Week 16 has done a good job clearing up some of the clutter in the NFL playoff picture but there is still one game left on the card and Monday’s matchup between the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals has plenty of ramifications.

The simple version is that with a win, Denver earns a first round bye. If Cinci can pull off an upset the Bengals not only clinch a playoff spot for the fourth straight season, they also put themselves in position to win the division over Pittsburgh. Now wouldn’t that make for a Week 17 matchup: Bengals at Steelers with the division title on the line!

Public money has driven this line from Denver -3 up to Broncos -3.5 and one sports betting site suggests 75-percent action on the road fave. Denver is 16-7 straight-up playing on the road since Peyton Manning joined the team and 14-9 ATS. That record includes a 4-2 ATS mark this season when laying points with recent wins over the Chargers and Chiefs.

The big concern over the Broncos ability to cover in this matchup is their lack of point production. After all, Denver is “only” scoring 29 points per game (PPG) this year, a six-point reduction from last year’s record setting pace of 35 PPG. Cincinnati has stumbled a few times this year and gave up 42 points two weeks ago against the Steelers but they recovered in a hurry, holding Johnny Manziel and the Browns to just 107 total yards in a 30-0 shutout.

Cinci is 6-2 SU since its 27-0 shutout loss to the Colts in Week 7 but they are only 4-4 ATS and the list of teams they’ve faced in the past two months is nothing spectacular. In fact, their only playoff caliber opponent was the Steelers (10-5 SU) and we all saw how that game ended!

The fact of the matter is that Denver can also play defense as well as almost any team. They’ve held four-straight opponents to 22 or less on the road and last season, the Broncos held their Week 16-17 hosts to just 13 and 14 points respectively as they tuned up for the postseason.

Team totals for this matchup are 25.5 (Broncos) and 22 (Bengals). Denver may not hit its ‘paltry’ season average of 29 in this game and even 26 points could be a stretch but if they can score into the 20’s, it will probably be enough to cover against the Bengals.

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