Last week the Bengals went on the road and beat a team that were favored to win. This week, the Bengals are going on the road and they will play a team that is favored to win again. Will they be able to prove everybody wrong again and defeat the Broncos? I think so and here's why:
Last week, Raiders running back Darren McFadden ran all over the Broncos defense for 150 yards on 22 carries. That's a 6.8 yards per carry average. If Bengals running back Cedric Benson can run the way McFadden did, the Broncos will have a hard time winning the game. The Bengals offensive line blocked well last week, opening holes for Benson to run for 121 yards against a division rival. There's no reason they can't do that again. They may even have an easier time running against the Broncos because of......
Coming into the second week, the Bengals are moderately healthy. They are missing Keith Rivers and Adam Jones but they have replaced both of those players while they are waiting for their return with Thomas Howard and Kelly Jennings. However, the Broncos have not been as fortunate. Their injury report resembles a team heading into week 14 of the regular season, not week two. They may be without Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil, Brandon Lloyd, Knowshon Moreno, Marcus Thomas, Demaryius Thomas, Ty Warren and D.J. Williams. When it comes to stopping Benson, the Broncos could be without a starting linebacker, defensive end and hardly any depth on the defensive line.
Champ Bailey is 33 years old but he's still one of the better cover corners in the NFL. If he plays, he'll cover A.J. Green and keep him at bay throughout the majority of the game. Yes, Green is extremely talented and his raw athleticism will get him open a few times but Bailey has been doing this for a long time and he's good at it. However, Bailey is questionable for the game and he hasn't practiced all week. If he doesn't play, second-year player Cassius Vaughn will take his place. This could be good news for Green, who could find himself open more often than not. If Dalton has time to throw the ball, he and Green could have big days.
Against the Browns and one of the better running backs in 2010, Peyton Hillis, the Bengals defense held the running game to 87 yards. Hillis only averaged 3.4 yards per carry in the game. The Bengals defense is going to be the strength of their team in 2011. Broncos main running back, Knowshon Moreno is unlikely to play, suffering from a hamstring injury that didn't allow him to practice all week. That means the Broncos will turn to Willis McGahee, whom the Bengals are very familiar with. If the Bengals stop the run like they did last week, they'll force Kyle Orton to beat them. Hey, speaking of Kyle Orton....
Orton barely completed 50 percent of his passes last week. He did throw one touchdown but he also threw an interception and fumbled the ball once as well. He didn't look too great. The Raiders defense managed to sack Orton five times. The Bengals will be starting second-year sack machine Carlos Dunlap as Robert Geathers is unlikely to play due to a shoulder injury. That's bad news to Orton. Dunlap opposite of Michael Johnson is a scary thing. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is sure to throw a lot of exotic blitz packages Orton's way as well. If the Bengals can get some pressure on Orton, Leon Hall and Nate Clements could benefit and have a big day.