2004 Season NFL Football Past Picks

October 25, 2004

This pick was released to clients on December 31, 1969 at 9:00PM ET.

25

Denver at Cincinnati

Monday 10/25 09:05 PM Eastern

2 units on Denver -6 (-110) (risk 2 to return 3.82)  RESULT: LOSS

Game Preview

 

Clinton who? The loss of Portis hasn't slowed Denver's running game at all. Denver has amassed 920 yards on the ground in six games. With Reuben Droughns in the lineup, the Ponies have rushed for over 200 yards in their last two games. The Broncos have won 4 straight and lead AFC West by a healthy margin. Cincinnati finally gets the call to host a Monday Nighter after 15 years, and they are a 6-point underdog because they have played so poorly thus far. Their defense is ranked near the bottom of the league and QB Carson Palmer hasn't yet lived up to expectations. When looking at the stats, it's hard to make an argument as to why Cincinnati can keep this game close. But, Cincinnati is obviously preparing to stop Droughns. Expect them to load 8 or 9 in the box to slow him and force Jake Plummer to beat them. Also, this is Monday Night and home dogs on Monday night fight like hell. Cincinnati knows that this game can, in some ways, turn their season around. Which Pro Bowler will come out ahead in this one: Champ Bailey or the outspoken Chad Johnson? If Cincy focuses on stopping the run, can Jake Plummer win the game for Denver? Is Denver just too strong?

 

Matchup

 

This is a matchup of strength on weakness. The performance of Denver's Droughns has solidified the fact that Denver's system and offensive line are the best in league. Yes, Terrell Davis was good - but without this system, maybe average. Yes, Clinton Portis is very good. But, without this system, we've seen maybe not as good as everyone thought. Shanahan is looking like a genius for trading Portis for Bailey. Now, this "system" gets to go against the Bengals defense which is dead last in the league against the run, allowing over 160 yards per game on the ground. The Broncos lead league in rushing. Whoa nelly! While it may seem obvious that Denver will rush for over 200 again, I'm not so sure. Cincinnati knows this and has been focusing their prep on stopping Droughns. They'll try to force Plummer to win the game and Plummer has made his share of mistakes. Even with that, I expect Denver to have success offensively. They are just too good and Cincinnati too bad. Plummer's erorrs come when he is pressured. Tonight, Cincinnati will be focusing on Droughns, not Plummer. If the Bengals have early success in bottling up Denver's running game by sending everyone after it, I expect The Broncos to adjust nicely and utilize a few smart counter-attacks to have success. They will utilize play-action and throw the ball deep to Ashly Lelie who should be facing single coverage most of the night. They'll also take advantage by throwing screen passes to running backs and wide receivers. If you know a team is going to be overly focused on your running back, you can exploit that in this league. On the other side, Denver ranks 4th in the league in rushing defense, 2nd in passing defense, and #1 overall. In a few ways, this game reminds me of the Minnesota vs. Tennessee game yesterday. It's a big-time mismatch on both sides of the ball. How can Cincinnati have offensive success against this Broncos defense? It's hard to come up with a scenario that for that. Cincinnati has won one game - against Miami. Since that victory, they have dropped their last three games by double digits, losing by an average of 14.0 points. They are really bad right now and as a result, this game should be a lopsided "W" for the Broncos.

 

Injuries

 

Denver has some key defensive injuries (Trevor Pryce, Lenny Walls) but it hasn't hurt them much so far. Walls may actually return in this one but they haven't needed him. Chad Johnson is Cincinnati's only real threat and he'll have Champ Bailey blanketing him regardless.

 

Systems/Trends/Angles

 

Cincinnati is 0-8-1 in their last nine games, but they actually have a good handful of trends favoring them tonight. For example, after week 5, home teams with no ATS wins cover the spread 70% of the time. Also, generally underdog teams that are performing poorly when facing teams that are performing very well, tend to do well ATS because the public overreacts to the big discrepancy (see Miami win yesterday). These trends are the one thing that make me a bit nervous tonight in backing the Broncos. From a trends/system perspective, Cincinnati is the pick. But, I just feel like the Broncos are too strong and the Bengals too weak. I believe a lot of these trends are in place is that the better team can under-prepare and underestimate their weak opponent. Given the Monday night exposure, I don't see that as the case tonight. I'm going against the trends tonight.

 

The Bottom Line

 

The Denver Broncos remember a game a couple of seasons ago when Bengals running back Corey Dillon torched them for what was at the time, an NFL record rushing day. They were embarassed big time. Dillon's no longer with the team but Denver defensive players remember this. They'd like nothing more to embarass the Bengals by holding Cincinnati's offense in check. And, the Broncos offense would love to return the favor in the same way by having a record-setting day. While I respect Marvin Lewis, I believe benching John Kitna for Carson Palmer was a mistake. It will help Palmer in the long haul as most young QBs need to go through a losing season on their way to greatness (Ben Roethlisberger being the exception). But, Cincinnati had a shot at being good thisyear. This move has taken a Cincinnati team that had momentum and "believed" for the first time in years and killed that momentum completely. Kitna was playing great last season (better than most QBs in the league) and should be a starter in this league. He had incredible chemistry with Chad Johnson that Palmer does not. Now, Cincinnati has a bad offense and worse defense. Denver is rocking on both sides of the ball. I don't think this game will be close unless Cincinnati gets some special teams or defensive scores. If Denver holds on to the ball and plays their game, I think they will by at least two scores.

 

 

**Denver -6 (-110) vs. Cincinnati (risk -110 to win 100)

NFL

 

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Wins Losses Units
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