Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos Handicap Betting Preview – Tue 29th Dec by @DarkDyson

Bengals at Broncos – Sports Authority Field, Mile High at 01:30 live on Sky Sports 1

I have decided to preview the absolutely monumental clash in the AFC over the Christmas weekend, as the 11 – 3 Cincinnati Bengals travel to Denver to face the 10 – 4 Broncos, in a match which will have serious playoff ramifications regardless of who comes out on top.

The Broncos, despite starting the season 7 – 0 are now in some danger of dropping out of the playoff race completely. With the surging Kansas City Chiefs just one game back in the AFC West and both the Pittsburgh Steelers & New York Jets holding 9 – 5 records, they could still get edged out of the post season action.

Admittedly, it will take a highly unlikely series of events to happen for the Broncos to miss out altogether but, should they lose this game, there will be a real question mark over their ability to take the divisional title.

On the other hand, the visiting Bengals are virtually assured to claim the AFC North title, with a home game against the hapless Ravens in the final week of the regular season. However, with the New England Patriots just one game ahead on 12 – 2, they still have an outside shot at claiming the number one seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Believe it or not, these playoff scenarios are not a complicated as they usually are due to the top heavy makeup of the AFC Conference. However, the one caveat to everything in the AFC playoff picture is that the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently the number six seed.

The implications of this for both these teams and the Patriots is massive because, if the Steelers head to the post season as the six seed, the winner of the AFC West will have to face them in the Wildcard round and if the Steelers won that match, they would then face the number one seed in the Divisional round.

Nobody wants to be playing against the Steelers high power offence, even at home, in the playoffs where anything can and usually does happen.

So, taking a closer look at this matchup it is a very tough game to decipher because both the Bengals and Broncos, as highlighted in previous weeks are now being led by their backup QBs, AJ McCarron and Brock Osweiler respectively.

 

AJ McCarron

With young backs under Centre, both team offences have had to make adjustments to their scheme’s and it makes life very tough for us to put any faith in previous results, performances or stats. Inexperienced QBs are naturally very inconsistent at the best of times.

It makes more sense to base our betting decision on what we do know about the rest of these rosters and in particular the defensive units. Cincinnati do have a very solid D, currently 1st in the NFL for Opponent Points Per Game and 4th in Opponent RZ Scoring Percentage.

But, we all know about the quality of Denver’s defence which, leads the league in Opponent Yards Per Game and ranks 5th in Opponent 3rd Down Conversion Percentage.

On the other side of the ball, as expected with the young QBs learning complex schemes, they have both been struggling to find their best form. The Bronco’s average 19.3 PPG with Osweiler calling the shots and the Bengals are averaging 22 PPG with McCarron as QB, but as he has played just two games, this number is particularly unreliable.

It will be a surprise if they can score that many points in Denver against such a talented & aggressive defence. With the home field advantage, extra playing time that Osweiler has had and their impressive record against the Bengals, it makes sense to lean towards them this week.

Taking Denver -3 for the big match looks like a fair bet here, despite their dismay performance against Oakland that cost me in Week 14. Another option would be taking the Under 40.5 Points line, with limited offensive schemes in place, tough D’s and potentially bad weather to contend with.

Other teams I like this week are: Redskins, Panthers, Buccaneers, Colts & Cardinals.

Handicap Betting Pick: Split Stake on Denver Broncos -3 at 1.90 & Under 40.5 Points at 1.99 with Matchbook

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @DarkDyson

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Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers Handicap Betting Preview – Sun 20th Dec by @DarkDyson

Broncos at Steelers – Heinz Field at 21:25 live on Sky Sports 2

Another disappointing result for my main pick last week as the Denver Broncos somehow managed to turn their 310 total yards and 20 First Downs, into just 12 points. Against an Oakland Raiders defence which ranks just 24th in the league, giving up an average 25.1 PPG (Points Per Game)!

As if to rub salt in these open wounds of the Broncos inability to convert possession and yardage into touchdowns, the Raiders performed a minor miracle to turn their 8 First Downs and 126 total yards into 15 points, to take the win by three.

Let’s leave that bad result in the past and look forward to 15 of the regular season and try to get this ship back on course. Again I have opted for a Denver Broncos game, but this week I am taking them on, they might have a great defence but with their offence unable to convert in the redzone they are liable to lose against almost anyone right now.

The last team you want to be playing at a time like this is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have the hottest offence in football, led by big Ben Roethlisberger and the league’s deadliest WR duo, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant.

 

Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown

Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown

After last weeks huge win over divisional rival, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers still have an outside shot at claiming the AFC North title and with that in mind, along with the opportunity to knock off another potential AFC playoff opponent, I expect Mike Tomlin’s side to be going full throttle on Sunday night.

That is a daunting prospect, even for the best defence in the NFL, because over the past five games the Steelers have been on another level in terms of offence. Over this period they have averaged a staggering 24.2 First Downs, 494 Yards Per Games and 35.2 PPG!

If those bare numbers are not enough, consider that two of those five games were against the top draw defences of the Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks. Plus, over the same period, the Broncos have averaged just 17.8 PPG and you can see why I think the Steelers will simply have too much for Denver to handle this weekend.

The Steelers defence itself has been better than expected this season and with the limited Broncos offence coming into their building, they should not have too much to worry about. As great as Denver’s defence is, I am sure they will slow the Steelers down, every defence gets tired if they are on the field a lot and taking a pounding from a high powered offence like the Steelers.

The spread for this match is set at +/-6.5 points and although I do think that the Broncos will be able to contain the Steelers explosive offence to some degree, their complete lack of a potent offence, will leave them unable to keep within one score of their hosts.

The other teams I like this weekend are: Jaguars, Texans, Cardinals and Lions.

Handicap Betting Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers -6.5 at 1.93 with Matchbook

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @DarkDyson

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Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Handicap Betting Preview – Sun 13th Dec by @DarkDyson

Raiders at Broncos – Sports Authority Field at Mile High at 21:05

Right this week, it is back to basics and back to winning ways with my main pick of the week!

This AFC Western divisional match-up is a crunch game for both teams involved, as the 10-2 Denver Broncos take on the 5-7 Oakland Raiders. These two teams have been moving in different directions recently, with the Broncos putting together a well-timed three game win streak and the Raiders struggling to 1-4 in their last five.

Injury to nailed on Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning had left the fate of this hugely talented Denver team, in the inexperienced hands of fourth year back up QB Brock Osweiler. However, the six foot eight inch former basketball player has proved in just four short games, how well his skill set fits into the Broncos offensive scheme.

He is by no means setting the world alight with his play but, he does enough to give the offence the chance to score points and with the number one ranked defence in the league on the other side of the ball, that is all the Broncos need to be win games.

 

Brock Osweiler

As mentioned they have won three on the spin now, including a hugely moral boosting win over their AFC rival New England Patriots. During this three game streak they have conceded just 14 points per game and so hosting an out of form, misfiring Raiders offence this weekend, will not hold any fears for them.

The Broncos do have an almost endless injury list to deal with but with the likes of Evan Mathis, Matt Paradis & DeMarcus Ware, amongst others likely to return to the line-up, Oakland will do well to eclipse that 14 points per game average in Denver on Sunday.

After an impressive start to the campaign the Oakland Raiders have fallen away badly in the last month or so, their young stars perhaps starting to feel the pace of life in the NFL. QB Derek Carr has remained relatively consistent but poor protection of late has led to errors and their defence has also struggled, as injuries take their toll.

An average of just 17.7 points per game over the last four weeks and against some far inferior defences to Denver’s, does not bode well for their hopes this weekend. Historically, they come up short against their divisional rivals as well, with five straight defeats against the Broncos.

Ultimately, if the Broncos defence plays anywhere close to their potential then Osweiler and the offence, should only need to score a couple of touchdowns to win this one and move on to 11-2.

The other teams I like this weekend are, Panthers, Lions, Seahawks and Giants.

Handicap Betting Pick: Denver Broncos -7 at 1.83 with Bet365

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @DarkDyson

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