The Broncos were three games removed from a half of football that completely changed the complexion of the team. After trailing 24-0 to divisional rival San Diego at halftime, the Broncos scored 35 unanswered to win the game 35-24. That was the beginning of an 11 game-winning streak.
A few weeks later, Denver traveled to play the Bengals and played a close game until Trindon Holliday gave them a two score advantage out of halftime with a 105 yard kick return for a TD. From there, the Bengals added 17 straight to take the lead 20-17.
The Broncos offense who had been stifled all game by a tough front 7 and some good coverage on the back end finally came alive in the 4th quarter to score two touchdowns for an 11-point lead they would never relinquish.
This was a very tough back and forth game that could have gone either way.
Carlos Dunlap has been giving opposing offenses fits for several weeks. Dunlap is on a five game tear where he was registered 3 sacks, 7 hits, and 13 hurries to go along with 15 stops in the run game.
Safety George Iloka creates some interesting matchup issues due to his size and strength. If Julius Thomas is ready to go I would expect Iloka to cover him almost exclusively. On the season Iloka has been targeted 27 times and has allowed just 11 receptions, no touchdowns and 3 interceptions to go along with 5 PD's.
Jeremy Hill is coming off a 148 yard performance against Cleveland. He has 8 touchdowns on the season is is likely to be the feature back going forward.
You can never sleep on AJ Green who is just two games removed from torching the Pittsburgh secondary to the tune of 224 yards and a score. He is a vertical threat and one who will give the Broncos corners issues.
Andy Dalton is coming out of a four game stretch where he has thrown 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. With the exception of Pittsburgh who seems to give up a lot of big plays to just about any team, Dalton has averaged just a hair over 6 yards per attempt. The "Red Rifle" has been sacked 6 times in the past three games which tells you his line is also struggling.
Matchups to Watch
Carlos Dunlap vs. Ryan Clady
Clady is already hobbled and coming off a game where Melvin Ingram beat him several times around the edge.
Chris Harris Jr. vs. AJ Green
Last week it appears as if the Broncos changed tactics a bit allowing Chris Harris Jr. to shadow Keenan Allen who is the Chargers best WR. If that holds true this week, Harris will have his hands full with the larger more agile target. I wouldn't mind giving CH some safety help over the top if this is the way Del Rio goes.
Whoever plays LB vs Andy Dalton
Dalton gets the ball out fast and will test our linebackers in coverage with the WCO. It will be up to our coverage men especially short to hold all catches to the minimum. Dalton is much, much less accurate when trying to push the ball down the field so the Broncos defense must force longer 3rd down opportunities to get him out of his comfort zone. Dalton isn't going to want to hold onto the ball against the Bronco pass rush so look for the backs and even TE's to be a more integral part of the rhythm passing game.
Jeremy Hill vs. Terrance Knighton
Hill is on a roll but he's never met a man as big and mean as Pot Roast. All joking aside, the Broncos defense has made it part of their battle plan to stuff the running game. Ranked 2nd in the league allowing just 71 yards per game, this version of the Orange Crush is predicated upon making offenses one dimensional. This will be a vital matchup towards getting the Cincy offense out of rhythm and off their game.
Stick around Mile High Report all week long for Film Studies, statistical analyses, and many more in-depth looks at Denver's Week 16 opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals!