The Cincinnati Bengals have an overall easier schedule in 2017 than they did during the 2016 season. However, the team still has a number of tough games and we’re setting out to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of those teams heading into the 2017 season. We’re starting off with the Denver Broncos, who come in on our ranking as the fifth toughest team the Bengals will face this year.
Weakness 1: Weak run defense
The Broncos have been relatively weak against the run for the past couple of years. After not getting the best play out of their nose tackles in recent years, they signed former Cincinnati Bengals nose tackle Domata Peko this offseason. As many Bengals fans can attest to, that may not be much of an upgrade. On top of that, Shane Ray is not the best run defender, so the Broncos have struggles stopping the run overall. One of Jeremy Hill’s best games in 2016 was against the Broncos: 17 rushes for 97 yards (5.7 yards per carry).
Weakness 2: Poor offensive line play
The Bengals face a few great teams with poor offensive lines in 2017, but the Broncos pushed hard to try and solve the issue during the offseason. It is still to be seen if this ends up working out, but Denver was at least aggressive in addressing the issue. Last season there was at least great play at center by Matt Paradis who seemingly came out of nowhere to be one of the best centers in the NFL. The Broncos also signed Ronald Leary in free agency and drafted Garett Bolles in the first round. Whether all these moves workout work out and whether the right side of the line figures it out remain to be seen.
Strength 1: One of the most dominant pass rushers in the NFL
Von Miller is an otherworldly talent as a pass rusher. He is able to take the edge off better than anyone else currently in the NFL and he has been doing it for years. He is a plus run defender, which is shocking considering his size, as he is not the heaviest player. When the Bengals play the Broncos in 2017 he will get to line up across from Jake Fisher, which will be an extremely tough matchup for Fisher and one I fully expect him to give up some pressures. Although, hopefully he has grown since last season and can partially keep him in check. Last season, Cedric Ogbuehi lined up across from his former teammate (Miller) and did surprisingly well considering how poor his season was overall. Hopefully Fisher does even better as the game will come in Week 11, at which point the offensive line will hopefully be gelling.
Strength 2: The best cornerback tandem in the NFL
The combination of Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib is, in my opinion, the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. They are an extremely dominant pairing and play with a player who has flashed extremely high levels of play at times in cornerback Bradley Roby. It will be interesting to see how the Bengals’ new weapon in John Ross can do against these corners. Antonio Brown has beat up on the Broncos in the past and it would be interesting if Ross could have a similar impact against the Broncos. Of course A.J. Green will still get his share as he is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. With these new weapons it will be interesting to see how the Bengals can match up against the Broncos’ pass defense.
Player to watch out for: Von Miller
Miller in a strength on his own and even though I could have picked another player to watch out for, he’s the No. 1 most important player on the field for the Bengals to keep tabs on. No one else on the Broncos is nearly the game wrecker Miller is and no one can change the entire flow of the game the way he can. Miller is one of the best players in the game and with the Bengals’ weaknesses at offensive tackle, he is someone the team absolutely have to watch out for and gameplan against.