If the Broncos win, they lock up a first round bye in the playoffs.
The Bengals need a win to keep ahead in the AFC North.
Who will do better in a high pressure primetime game. The Broncos and Peyton Manning or the Bengals and Andy Dalton?
Any Broncos fan has heard the 'Peyton Manning struggles in high pressure games narrative.' He overthinks things. He tries too hard. Unless you count all of the times he plays lights out in primetime games. Then that narrative doesn't work so well.
I feel like the only time the Cincinnati Bengals (and Andy Dalton) get much attention is when they are falling apart in the spotlight. Or when they are doing well and people are just waiting for them fall apart (again) in the national spotlight.
I'm clearly not the only person on the internet who has this impression:
So I took a look back at the last 5 primetime (regular season) games the Bengals played to see if my "the Bengals and Dalton choke in primetime" impression was fair.
In the last 5 primetime games (Sunday and Monday nights), the Bengals record is 1-4. OK, I'm not crazy yet. However, Dalton's combined numbers for these games are far from catastrophic. He completed 56.74% of his passes (6 TD - 2 INT) with a rating of 80.3.
Dalton's average rating this season is 82.9 - which is actually really impressive considering he had a rating of 2.0 in week 10. Of course QB ratings can be deceiving and don't tell the whole story, but it's not like Dalton is rocking Week 10's 2.0 rating anytime he hits the field after 5PM. That 2.0 rating did occur at night but the Thursday night games have been so sloppy this season I thought using those games was a bit misleading.
The problem with the Bengals (and Dalton) is that they are very Charger-esque - meaning you don't know if you're going to get the "good" Bengals or the "bad" Bengals from week to week. The Bengals usually play much better at home, but they also usually play poorly in primetime.
There's also a difference between a 'primetime game' and a 'high pressure' game. This Monday's game happens to be both.
Will the Bengals fall apart in the spotlight or will they pull out all the stops to make their "Cincinnati Bungles" nickname go away? The Broncos need to bring their 'A' game and be ready for whatever the Bengals have up their sleeves to lock up the #2 seed and the playoff bye.
The Denver Broncos are 19-8 all-time against the Cincinnati Bengals. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30PM MT.