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Broncos vs Bengals: Blast from the past

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The best and worst games vs. an old division rival.

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How many of us remember that the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos were once division rivals? Yes, that's right - when the Bengals entered the American Football League in 1968, they spent two seasons in the AFL West. This was to balance the number of teams in each division, since the Miami Dolphins had been added to the AFL East in 1966. Cincinnati would ultimately move to the American Football Conference's Central division during the restructuring that came with the merger of the AFL with the NFL.

The Broncos and the Bengals faced off four times during those two seasons. They split the series in 1968 with each team winning at home. Denver won both of the 1969 matchups. That was a microcosm of things to come.

Denver has dominated the series with the Bengals. They currently hold a 19-8-0 record versus Cincinnati with a 7-6-0 record in the Bengals' home stadium. Denver has won: the last four meetings, four of the last five and thirteen of the last fifteen. Their last meeting in Cincinnait was a 31-23 win in 2012. Denver is 8-1 versus the AFC while Cincinnati is 5-4.

That said, the Bengals are 4-2-1 at home this year while the Broncos are 3-3-0, so expect a dogfight. And they have a little bit of history on their side regarding the Monday Night Football matchup between the Broncos.

Denver vs the Cincinnati Bengals

Best Game: September 1, 1991
Score: Denver 45, Cincinnati 14

What made this game great: This would prove to be the fourth straight win in the series for the Broncos (in what would end up being an eight-game winning streak versus Cincinnati). It was the opening game of the 1991 season -- a season in which the Broncos would go 12-4-0, win the AFC West but lose to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship game. Denver dominated this game from the very start -- despite a 7-7 score at the end of the first. The Broncos forced a 3-and-out on Cincinnati's opening possession, then marched for a touchdown. The Bengals' next possession ended in an interception by Steve Atwater. Broncos' kicker David Treadwell hit the right upright on a field goal attempt following the pick. The Bengals then got a touchdown of their own. Denver responded with its second touchdown four plays into the second quarter for a 14-7 lead. A Cincinnati punt led to a third Broncos' touchdown and a 21-7 lead. A Dennis Smith interception ended the Bengals' final possession of the first half. Denver was able to convert the turnover into a fourth touchdown for a 28-7 lead at the half. It looked like Cincinnati might make a fight of it when they forced the Broncos to go 3-and-out to start the third quarter then scored a touchdown. Denver's next possession ended with a blocked field goal attempt, giving the Bengals the ball on their own 40-yard line. The Broncos got the ball back when Cincinnati quarterback Boomer Esiason fumbled at the Denver 15-yard line. A Denver punt gave the Bengals the ball back, but this drive was cut short when Tyrone Braxton intercepted a Bengals pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown to give Denver a 35-14 lead at the end of three quarters. The Broncos added yet another touchdown early in the fourth quarter, then after a 3-and-out by Cincinnati, Denver chewed nearly ten minutes off the clock before Treadwell added a field goal for the final margin of 45-14.

Worst Game: November 22, 1981
Score: Cincinnati 38, Denver 21

What made this game horrible: This game came in what would end up being a frustrating season for the Broncos. They squandered a 5-1 start to drop to 5-3. They then looked like they had turned it around by winning three straight games to raise their record to 8-3. Then they traveled to Cincinnati to play a game which would help the Broncos fall into a stretch where they would lose 3 of their final five games and miss the playoffs. This game started out with the Broncos' offense looking anemic. Denver ran 15 plays in the first quarter, gained 59 yards but lost 18 yards to penalties and punted three times. Meanwhile, the Bengals scored touchdowns on two of their four first quarter drives. The Broncos did muster a touchdown drive following a missed field goal by Cincinnati but their defense allowed the Bengals to answer with another touchdown drive. An interception thrown by Broncos' quarterback Steve DeBerg led to Cincinnati's fourth touchdown of the first half and Denver trailed 28-7 at the half. A scoreless third quarter might have given the Broncos some hope, but Cincinnati extended the lead to 31-7 on a 38-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. Denver did try to rally with a touchdown drive in response, cutting the Bengals' lead to 31-14. A fumble on the ensuing kickoff gave the Broncos a boost, but they were not able to convert the turnover into points and instead gave up another touchdown drive to Cincinnati. A touchdown drive on the Broncos last possession of the game cut the Bengals' lead to 38-21 and made the game seem much closer than it had actually been.

As mentioned above, the Bengals are 4-2-1 at home in 2014 while Denver is 3-3 on the road. Cincinnati has scored an average of 25.4 points per game at home while allowing an average of 23.9. The Broncos have been averaging 24.8 points per game on the road while giving up an average of 23.5 points to the home team. That said, Denver has won two of their last three road games while the Bengals have dropped two straight home games after starting 4-0-1 at home. This will be a very close score, but the Broncos should be able to prevail.

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