The Denver Broncos (10-4) host the Cincinnati Bengals (11-3) on “Monday Night Football” with plenty on the line. As the two teams close out Week 16, they both still have a chance to get home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
The New England Patriots (12-3) are still in the driver’s seat to clinch the No.1 seed, but they haven’t locked up home-field advantage just yet. Cincinnati will get the No.1 seed with two wins to close out the season, as well as a Patriots loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 17. Denver holds the tiebreaker over New England, meaning they’d get the No.1 seed with wins in Week 16 and Week 17, as well as a Patriots loss.
Cincinnati clinched the AFC North on Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Baltimore Ravens, but Denver still hasn’t officially made the playoffs. They lead the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West, but a loss on Monday would put Kansas City in first place and give Denver the No.6 seed in the conference.
Broncos Injury News
Brock Osweiler will make his sixth straight start in place of the injured Peyton Manning, and the future Hall of Famer might not see the field for the rest of the season. Osweiler is reportedly dealing with an injury, as well, but Denver wants to stick with him as their starting quarterback. According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, Osweiler has a grade 2 separated shoulder, but the Broncos are now “Brock Osweiler’s team.” Manning is recovering from a partially torn plantar in his left foot, and head coach Gary Kubiak said Manning had a good week of practice.
Denver safety T.J. Ward hasn’t played since he suffered an ankle injury on Nov. 29, but it looks like he’ll be back on Monday. Darian Stewart didn’t play last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers because of a hamstring injury, but the defensive back returned to practice on Saturday. He’s listed as questionable.
Bengals Injury News
Much like the Broncos, the Bengals are relying on their backup quarterback that is starting because of an injury. Andy Dalton is still recovering from his fractured thumb, and he’s likely to miss the rest of the regular season. AJ McCarron put up good numbers when he made his first start last week, completing 15 of 21 passes for a 115.6 passer rating.
McCarron will be without one of Cincinnati’s top offensive weapons for a second straight week. A concussion will keep Tyler Eifert off the field. The tight end has caught 48 passes this season, 12 of which have gone for touchdowns. Tyler Kroft caught three passes for 31 yards and a touchdown in place of Eifert last week.
The matchup between Denver and Cincinnati marks the final Monday night game of the 2015 season. The contest is set to start at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, and viewers can watch a free live stream online with WatchESPN.