The Bengals lost yet another heartbreaker against the Steelers in Week 2, but they’re still sitting pretty with a 1-1 record after two road matchups with teams which won 10 games apiece last season. In a Week 3 home opener, the Bengals hope to make a statement victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. Let’s get to this week’s questions with Mile High Report’s Sadaraine on this week’s matchup!
Connor Howe: Von Miller is looking really good through two games, with four sacks. Facing a first-year starter in right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, do you think he can notch another multi-sack game in Cincinnati, even without DeMarcus Ware on the other side?
Sadaraine: If I were a betting man, I absolutely would put money on it in this situation. The big thing to keep in mind for NFL fans who don't know Denver's personnel well is that behind DeMarcus Ware, we have a disgusting amount of talent as our back-ups. Both Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray would start as OLBs on at least half of the NFL teams out there (this is no hyperbole...they have the goods).
Having this kind of threat across from Von makes it very very hard for teams to scheme help to Von all the time as the game wears on because Wade Phillips will adjust his front to take advantage of it too easily.
At the end of the day, Von Miller is the best defensive player in the league based off of recent performances (dominant back through the playoffs even) and hardware. Having a first year guy on his end is a recipe for him to have a good game. Should Ogbuehi hold him to less than 2 sacks or less, I'll tip my hat to him.
CH: Tell me about Trevor Siemian. He's completed nearly 68 percent of his passes, but he has three interceptions and only one touchdown pass through two games. Facing one of the better pass defenses in the NFL, which shut down both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker in Week 1, as well as Antonio Brown in Week 2, how do you think the Broncos will help him get comfortable? Do you think the quarterback will be able to get the ball to his playmaking receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders?
S: Siemian is a first year starter who was drafted in the 7th round. The dude is playing with house money and so far the big thing he has going for him is a championship team with a very solid head coach / coordinator. Siemian has been working within the system and executing the plays as they are drawn up without waiting for down-field options to open up really.
He's going to hit the WRs some, but look for him to spread the ball around. He connected with 9 different options last week in the passing game and Kubiak likes to design his offense in a way that keeps defenses guessing.
Several of us have been clamoring for some deeper targets down field, but against this Bengal defense with the sound corners they have, I don't think for a second that this is the week to do that.
CH: On that same topic, how important is C.J. Anderson to the run game? He's looked good through two weeks; do you think his success will continue this week, even with right tackle Donald Stephenson on the injury report?
S: C.J. Anderson is a very talented RB. He's no world-beater, but he runs with power and is very elusive for his size. The key for our run game is far more centered on the play of our improved offensive line though. Several changes were made this offseason and so far every one of them has been an improvement.
As far as the right tackle goes, we've got a couple of guys in Ty Sambrailo (returning from injury this week) and Michael Schofield who have experience at tackle who will be filling in. That being said, with a strong front-7 like Cincinnati has, they are going to be really tested on that right side and C.J. is going to need to up his game to stay productive.
CH: Carlos Dunlap tore through Michael Schofield for three sacks in the last matchup between Denver and Cincinnati. Do you have any confidence the pass protection will be better in this matchup for the Broncos?
S: I honestly do. It isn't that I have a ton of confidence with Schofield at tackle because I've gone on record saying he's a guard and doesn't have the foot quickness to play tackle even as a back-up. The big point I'll make here is that Schofield was working through an injury last year during the back half of the season. His legs are in much better health this year and even last week filling in some at tackle it didn't look to me like he was impersonating a fence post at tackle like I saw last year.
CH: Denver's defenses still appears to be ferocious, despite losing Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan and others this offseason. Do you think the Broncos can dominate on the defensive front against Andy Dalton, who leads the NFL in passing yards through two weeks?
S: If there is one area of this team that I have extreme confidence, it is the defensive secondary. They are hands down the best secondary (corners and safeties) in the NFL bar none in my opinion. Pair that with a front-7 that still looks destructive even without Malik in the lineup and you have a recipe for keeping a good QB down.
Anything can happen in the NFL on any given Sunday, but I'd not bet on Dalton having a hay day in the passing game this week. This game feels to me like more a of a close grind of a game that is going to come down to the wire.
CH: What's your final score prediction?
S: We did a season prediction post months ago and I had this game pegged as a loss for the Broncos. I still think it is. We're taking a very young QB into his first road game against one of the top 5 teams in the AFC front to back. There's enough questions about our offense to think this game may get away from the Broncos.
Bengals 21, Broncos 16