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Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals: The No Bull Review

Good teams win games against bad teams. I know the Bengal’s record was on par with the Broncos, but when you compare the teams on paper, the talent levels are just completely different.

This was a game that the Broncos are supposed to win.

This was the same kind of game we saw earlier this season against the N.Y. Jets where the Broncos completely just fell apart.

But this wasn’t that game.

And this doesn’t look at all like the same team from that game.

I’ve been pretty up and down on Bill Musgrave’s play calling this year, but overall, I honestly thought this was one his best games as a play caller this season.

We stuck with the run. We ran the right guys in the right situations. We had some creative plays to open up some one on one matches on the outside.


Case Keenum honestly had a fairly rough game of it. The early season overthrows were all over the place in this one with him frustratingly missing receivers multiple times in this game. You have to love his big tosses to Sutton though as his placement on them was perfect.

Look for him leaning on that more as long as the Broncos can keep scheming single match ups with Sutton for Keenum to look for.


Bill Turner had a pretty rough game if we’re being honest. I’m still pretty proud of the guy though. Keep in mind he’s a depth tackle for us filling in at guard.

The only other real worry about the offensive line in this game was Connor McGovern trying his hardest to make some turnovers happen based off of too many low snaps. It was so bad, Keenum adjusted his stance to darn near kneeling when he was taking shotgun snaps to make sure he was able to dig it out if another bad snap came his way.

Garett Bolles had a really strong game on the left side. They have to find ways to pull him out on more plays because he’s absolutely filthy in space as a blocker. I almost would like to see him play at guard where you can pull him in your play design space a lot easier.

Jared Veldheer was again a rock on the right side. The guy is playing great football and I’d love to see him play for us again next year.

Running Backs

Phillip Lindsay is an absolute monster on the football field. He’s getting more and more carries as the year goes on and I love it. Speed kills in the NFL game and I’m not sure he’s not the fastest guy on the field each week the Broncos play.

His acceleration was the highlight of the game from what I saw. The guy just kicks up his gears so quickly that it makes the angles the defenders take completely wrong. Pair that with his ability to change angles while staying darn near full speed and you get elite NFL talent.

I also have to say I like what I’m seeing from Royce Freeman as well. His game isn’t going to get the credit he deserves for two reasons: 1) Lindsay is exponentially more talented and electrifying and 2) He had a fumble that people are going to throw shade on.

But let me tell you, his game was very good. That fumble was a great play by the defense…he didn’t hold it wrong, but just got stood up by the defense as he was trying to power forward for extra yards. He still ran for 4 ypc as the #2 RB which is superb. I also think he’s a back that is likely going to play better the more carries he gets, and unless Lindsay gets injured, he’s just not going to get that kind of opportunity.

Devontae Booker also should get some props. His biggest contribution is as in the passing game with 2 passes for big yards, but it is worth noting that while he’s not in contention for starting snaps by any means, he has a role on this team and is productive in it.


Courtland Sutton needs 4-5 passes a game where he gets to jump ball it against a defender. He’s got serious skills and this was a pretty impressive break out game for the rookie.

Emmanuel Sanders got a lot of targets and if Keenum’s throws would have been on, he would have had a pretty impressive game. As sit was, he got 6 catches and averaged 4.8 yards which is a little underwhelming for a normally prolific receiver.

I have to say I expected the defense to have more trouble than they did with a young QB with little to no film.

But I was worried over nothing. The Bengals couldn’t handle the pass rush and with A.J. Green going down, just lack any kind of serious threat to take advantage of our poor CB depth.

Front 7

Bradley Chubb should be the defensive player of the year. He’s got the look of a young elite talent that is going to develop into a very special player. It just isn’t fair that we have him on a team along with Von Miller.

Speaking of Von, he also had a great game. He lived in the Bengals’ backfield for much of the game. He had a great TFL, hit the QB multiple times, and got 1.5 sacks to boot.

Shelby Harris followed up a spectacular game last week with another superb effort this week. He is looking more and more like the interior pass rush this defense needs to really shine.

Todd Davis is the man. He’s playing great football and is a big reason that this team is playing such good defensive football overall. He led the team in tackles again this week and added 3 TFL.

With Josey Jewell out, I loved seeing Sua’ Cravens step into the ILB spot and hold it down. He didn’t drop any big time flashy plays, but he filled in just fine with a 5 combined tackles. His versatility is a very big bonus to have in a player.


Chris Harris, Jr. going down is going to be a very big hit to this defense. Cornerback is probably our weakest group on defense behind him and we’re going to need some very young players to step up in a big way to be able to finish off this season strong and have any chance to get into the playoffs. Get well soon, Chris!

Isaac Yiadom was thrust into a lot of playing time that he just doesn’t look ready for. If he’s going to help this team win, he has to study his tail off an execute better than he did in this game. I’m not saying he sucks…I’m saying he’s young and doesn’t have his techniques down yet to stay on his guys and make plays. What’s damning here is that I’m saying this when he went against one of the worst WR corps in the NFL with A.J. Green out.

Bradley Roby again just blows me away with how little effort he gives at times. The TD that was scored on him was in every way total sucktitude. It was a poor angle, it was a poor effort, and it was a garbage play when you are the “best” corner the Broncos have with CHJ out.

Justin Simmons had another up and down game, but when he got moved into playing more #3 corner, I thought he did very well and is a solid option for the team to fill holes in man coverage type looks against the depth receivers that teams will throw up against this defense.

Darian Stewart…I just want to say I can’t believe you dropped that pick.

Colby Wadman is growing on me. His corner kick early in the game was absolutely beautify and pinned the Bengals down inside the 10. He had a couple other really nice punts with hang time on them as well. I was pretty harsh on him earlier in the season, but he’s obviously putting in the work to be a better punter and it is showing up on the field.

Losing Chris is a big blow to this team as I mentioned earlier. Hopefully the Broncos find some way to fill in this gap. If they don’t, look for better teams with better talent at receiver to put some big numbers up on us.

Sadly, I’m not sure next week will be a true test for this team. It is going to be another game that the Broncos should be expected to handle easily against a far lesser talented team in the San Francisco 49ers.

But for now, this team has climbed back to 6 – 6 and has a shot at making the playoffs which I honestly didn’t think they were going to be able to do a month ago. I love it and I love how we are finally seeing the coaches do more and more things on both sides of the ball that just plain make sense.

How about you out there in Broncos Country? Does McManus deserve some shade for the missed FG? Do you think the offense is playing down to its opponent instead of thriving? What’s the formula for making it to the playoffs for this young, talented team?

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