Den­ver puts Cincy shame to shame

Teams have the same records, but Bron­cos have had more of a fall.

Dayton Daily News - - SPORTS - By Jay Mor­ri­son Staff Writer

As poorly as the Cincin­nati Ben­gals have played, they still find them­selves well back of the Den­ver Bron­cos for the la­bel of most dis­ap­point­ing team of the sea­son.

The Bron­cos, who will play host to the Ben­gals on Sun­day, own the same record as the Ben­gals at 3-6. Den­ver is two sea­sons re­moved from a Su­per Bowl cham­pi­onship, and the Bron­cos came into 2017 hav­ing posted five con­sec­u­tive win­ning sea­sons, four of which fea­tured at least 12 wins.

But things have fallen apart un­der first-year coach Vance Joseph, a for­mer Ben­gals as­sis­tant from 2014-15.

All six Bron­cos losses have been by dou­ble dig­its, and they are rid­ing their first five-game los­ing streak since 2010. Den­ver hasn’t lost six in a row since 1990.

The de­fense that ranked fourth in the league in 2016, in­clud­ing first against the pass, is still for­mi­da­ble. The Bron­cos are fourth in to­tal de­fense (293.6), fifth in rush de­fense (89.6) and eighth in pass de­fense (204.0).

But the Den­ver quar­ter­backs con­tin­u­ally put

the de­fense in bad po­si­tions. Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler have com­bined to throw 13 in­ter­cep­tions, se­cond only to the 18 thrown by Cleve­land quar­ter­backs.

The Bron­cos also have lost eight fum­bles. Their 21 give- aways are se­cond only to the Browns’ 23.

All those turnovers are giv­ing op­po­nents short fields, which is a big rea­son a Den- ver de­fense that is so solid in the yardage num­bers ranks 29th in points al­lowed (26.6).

The Bron­cos have at least two turnovers in eight of nine games, and 15 dur­ing the five- game los­ing streak.

Joseph benched Siemian af­ter seven games and in­serted Osweiler as the starter two weeks ago, and the move has hardly pro­vided a spark.

Den­ver lost 51-23 at Philadel­phia two weeks ago and 41-16 Sun­day night at home against New Eng­land. Oswe il er is com­plet­ing 52 per­cent of his passes with two touch- downs and three in­ter­cep­tions, even though the Bron­cos are built to make things eas­ier on the quar­ter­back with a great de­fense and solid run­ning game.

The top three rush­ers, C.J. An­der­son, Ja­maal Charles and Devon­tae Booker, each aver- age more than 4 yards per carry, and the Bron­cos have more first downs than their op­po­nents (171 to 155) and a bet­ter third-down com­ple- tion per­cent­age (39.4 to 27.6).

But while the of­fen­sive line de­serves some credit for paving the way for three backs to av­er­age at least four yards, it gets a healthy dose of the blame for al­low­ing 28 sacks, which is tied for sev­enth most in the league.

The Bron­cos do have one thing work­ing for them head- ing into Sun­day — they are play­ing a fran­chise that hasn’t won in Den­ver since 1975. The Ben­gals are 0-10 in their last 10 vis­its to Den­ver and 2-13 all-time, and the Bron­cos are 15-3 in their last 18 against the Ben­gals, re­gard­less of site.

Ben­gals-Bron­cos con­nec­tions

Bron­cos coach Joseph was on the Ben­gals’ staff as de­fen- sive backs coach from 2014-15. ... Bron­cos de­fen­sive tackle Do­mata Peko was a fourthround draft pick (123rd over­all) of the Ben­gals in 2006 and was with the team through the 2016 sea­son . ... Ben­gals H-back Ryan He­witt is from Den­ver (J.K. Mullen High School) . ... Bron­cos de­fen­sive line coach Bill Kol­lar played for the Ben­gals from 1974-76. ... Bron­cos de­fen­sive end Derek Wolfe played at the Univer­sity of Cincin­nati . ... Bron­cos wide re­ceiver Cody La­tim e r is from Dayton (Jef­fer­son Town­ship High School) . ... Ben­gals de­fen­sive tackle Josh Tupou played at the Univer­sity of Colorado. ... Bron­cos tight end Jeff Heuer­man and cor­ner­back Brad- ley Roby played at Ohio State Univer­sity . ... Bron­cos of­fen- sive line coach Jeff David­son and lineback­ers coach Fred Pa­gac both played at Ohio State. Pa­gac also coached at Ohio State from 1978-2000.

AFC North Out­look

Bal­ti­more (4-5) at Green Bay on Sun­day af­ter­noon: The Ravens come off their bye hav­ing lost three of four as they head to Lam­beau Field, where they have never won in three vis­its.

Cleve­land (0-9) vs. Jack­sonville on Sun­day af­ter­noon: The Browns will try to avoid be­com­ing the se­cond team since the merger to start 0-10 in back-to-back sea­sons (Houston Oilers, 1983-84).

Pitts­burgh (7-2) vs. Ten­nessee (6-3) on Thurs­day night: The Steel­ers, who own the No. 1 seed in the AFC and play five of their fi­nal seven games at home, are 6-1 in their last seven primetime games at Heinz Field.

DAVID ZALUBOWSKI / AP

Den­ver’s Brock Osweiler has com­pleted 52 per­cent of his passes with two touch­downs and three in­ter­cep­tions.

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