Bengals host Broncos on MNF in pivotal AFC battle

In what figures to be a pivotal game for AFC playoff positioning, the Denver Broncos will clash with the Cincinnati Bengals in an epic Monday Night Football showdown on ESPN. Both teams lead their respective divisions, while a first round bye could potentially be on the line. The Broncos at 11-3 are gunning for the top spot in the AFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Bengals at 9-4-1 are a half game in front of the Steelers and Ravens in their quest to win the AFC North. In fact, if the Bengals don’t take care of business down the stretch, they could even miss the playoffs, altogether.

Naturally, Week 16 carries a ton of weight, yet Bengals tickets are surprisingly just $195 on average (down $34 from Cincy’s season average) and just $77 to get in the door. It’s an even bigger discount for Broncos tickets, as this game is priced roughly $97 less than Denver tickets on average for the 2014 season.

No matter what happens, it’s a terrific value for both sides and the entire nation should be in for a treat in the primetime capper of Week 16.

On Cincy’s side, this contest is going to come down to Andy Dalton. He tends to shrink in bigger moments against tough defenses, and he’ll surely face a stiff test in a huge game in Week 16. Cincy will need strong play from its defense and the running game to remain lively, but this one is going to sway with Dalton. Denver is only a middle of the road pass defense by the numbers, but their 38 sacks tie for sixth in the league and could present a problem.

Bengals rookie running back Jeremy Hill was named by the NFL as the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 15 for his performance in a crucial AFC North Division battle at Cleveland this past Sunday. Hill rushed for 148 yards on 25 carries (5.9 yards per carry) with two touchdowns, on runs of two and 16 yards, and also had a four-yard reception.

Dalton has the defense and ground game to lead a balanced attack and the tempo of his choosing, and he’s at home. He just needs to avoid killer turnovers to push the Bengals past their stiffest test and help lock up the AFC North title and a playoff spot. By shocking the world with a win over the Broncos, Dalton would get one step closer to doing exactly that.