There's no question as to what the biggest NFL game of Week 16 will be.
That will come on Monday Night Football as the Denver Broncos host the Cincinnati Bengals in a matchup of two possible Super Bowl contenders. At least, both teams have looked like title contenders for stretches of this season, but recent setbacks have raised concern as to whether either team will make it past the first weekend of the playoffs.
For the 10-4 Broncos, a two-game losing streak and poor play at quarterback have the Broncos not only falling down the AFC standings, but possibly out of the playoff mix altogether. This is a must-win for the home team this week in the same manner as it was last year when Cincinnati won at home in primetime to clinch a playoff berth.
But things are different this time around for the 11-3 Bengals. While they struggled just to make the playoffs last year, they've looked like a championship contender for most of this season.
That was, until Andy Dalton went down with a fractured thumb and AJ McCarron was thrust into action. The good news is the second-year quarterback is 1-0 as a starter after notching a 24-14 win in San Francisco last week. In the process, McCarron completed 15 of 21 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 115.6.
The bad news is he led the offense to just 243 total yards against what's been one of the four or five worst defenses this season. Life will get much more difficult this week when Denver and their top-ranked defense get a crack at McCarron and the Bengals offense.
It's no secret that Cincinnati will have to play its best game of the season to get a hard-fought road win against a desperate Denver team. If the Bengals are able to win this game, they'll not only clinch one of the AFC's top seeds, but will also remain in contention for the No. 1 overall seed based on what the New England Patriots do in their final two games.
However, a loss here likely pushes the Bengals to the No. 3 seed and forces them to play in the Wild Card round with either the Kansas City Chiefs (currently on 8-game winning streak) or the Pittsburgh Steelers (winners of 5 of their past 6 games). That may also be one week sooner than when Dalton may be able to return from his thumb injury.
Here is everything you'll need for the big Monday Night Football clash between the Bengals and Broncos.
When: Dec. 28, 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High
TV Broadcast: ESPN with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters (field reporter)
Radio Broadcast: Coverage on the Bengals Radio Network, led by a "triple cast" on Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham.
National Radio: Westwood One with Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Jim Miller (field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Cin), 93 (Den). XM: 88 (WW1), 225 (Cin), 226 (Den).
Weather: 29 degrees and partly cloudy with a very small chance of rain, per Weather Underground
Odds: The Broncos opened as a 3.5-point favorite, per Odds Shark.