A weak Bengals O-line could help Broncos’ front seven rebound

Jan 24, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is tackled by Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) in the third quarter in the AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

A matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals could be just what the doctor ordered to cure the Denver Broncos’ recent defensive issues.

All season, the Broncos have had issues getting to the quarterback. Surprisingly, they’re tied for 18th in the league — the same rank as Cleveland and San Francisco — in sacks with only 20 so far this year. They’ve been able to muster only five interceptions, ranking them 25th, and they have only forced two fumbles, good only for last place in the league.

But Denver has a chance to swing the momentum back into their favor this week, facing a Bengals offensive line that is considered one of the worst in the league.

After a 2016 campaign, where they allowed quarterback Andy Dalton to be sacked 41 times, Cincinnati’s offensive line has seemed to regress, allowing Dalton to be put on the ground 25 times already; on pace for 45 sacks allowed. The Bengals have also had nine fumbles on offense — Dalton being personally responsible for four of those — tied for ninth-most in the league.

“We just need to win,” said linebacker Von Miller. “We all feel it, we’re all pros and we’re all in the boat together. Hopefully, it will change for us. We have a good team coming in and we haven’t put together a complete game yet. Hopefully, this will be the week for us.”

Miller has ‘only’ been able to muster eight sacks on the season, with several of the sacks coming after the game has been all but decided. Miller is looking to improve on his play and get sacks during more crucial points in the game.

“I just have to get it going and make some plays for my guys,” Miller said. “Like I said before, it’s not the type of season that I wanted to have, but I still have a lot of time. I still have a lot of ways to help my teammates. I have another great opportunity to go out there and create some pass rush for my guys.”

This will also be one of the first games in a few weeks where all of the non-IR Broncos defensive front will be expected to play. Both Adam Gotsis and Todd Davis returned to full practice, according to coach Vance Joseph on Thursday. Outside linebacker Shane Ray is playing his fourth week of the season, meaning he should be in full shape and playing the majority of the snaps opposite Von Miller. Ray saw a drop-off in his snap count against the New England Patriots, only playing in 66 percent of the snaps as compared to the 81 percent average in the previous two weeks.

With a healthy front seven and a Cincinnati team that struggles against the pass rush, the Broncos look poised to have a rebound game for the defense. The Broncos will face the Bengals in Denver at 2:25 p.m. on Sunday.

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