Bengals 23

(8-7, 4-4 away)

Broncos 24

(9-6, 4-3 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:15 PM ET, December 24, 2006

Invesco Field, Denver, CO 

1 2 3 4 T
CIN 7 10 0 623
DEN 0 14 7 324

Top Performers

Passing: C. Palmer (CIN) - 209 YDS, 2 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: R. Johnson (CIN) - 30 CAR, 129 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: T. Houshmandzadeh (CIN) - 9 REC, 94 YDS, 1 TD

Cincinnati (8-6) at Denver (8-6)

Cincinnati (8-6) at Denver (8-6) Sunday 4:15 pm EST

DENVER (Ticker) -- Jay Cutler has been entrusted with trying to get the Denver Broncos to the playoffs for the fourth straight season. The rookie quarterback will likely have to beat the Cincinnati Bengals for that to happen.

Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer is trying to get the Bengals to the postseason for the second consecutive year.

The winner of Sunday's game between the Broncos and Bengals will certainly have the inside track to a postseason berth.

The Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6) and New York Jets (8-6) are tied with Denver and Cincinnati in the battle for the two AFC wild-card spots. The Jaguars host New England on Sunday and the Jets visit Miami on Monday.

After this weekend's contest, the Broncos host San Francisco and the Bengals host Pittsburgh.

Along with the major playoff implications, the game will also feature a matchup between Pro Bowlers Chad Johnson of Cincinnati and Champ Bailey of the Broncos.

Johnson has 80 catches for a league-leading 1,284 yards and seven touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time on Tuesday.

Perhaps the NFL's best cornerback, Bailey is tied for the league lead with eight interceptions. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the seventh time, including each of his three years with Denver.

Last week, the Broncos snapped a four-game losing streak with a 37-20 victory at Arizona. Cutler earned his first win in his third start, completing 21-of-31 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns.

"There is a learning curve (with Cutler) and there will be ups and downs," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "The guy is very composed and plays with a lot of confidence."

Cutler evoked memories of former Bronco John Elway with a 54-yard touchdown pass to Javon Walker last week. However, Walker suffered a first-degree shoulder separation and is listed as questionable for Sunday.

Acquired in an offseason trade with Green Bay, Walker has 62 receptions for 1,007 yards and seven TDs.

Bailey had a pair of interceptions in the win at Arizona. His first pick set up a 30-yard field goal by Jason Elam.

Along with Bailey, veteran safety John Lynch and linebacker Al Wilson were also named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday. It was the eighth selection for Lynch and the fifth for Wilson.

The Bengals had three Pro Bowl representatives as well - Palmer, Johnson and tackle Willie Anderson. Palmer has a 96.9 quarterback rating, completing 64 percent of his passes for 3,575 yards and 24 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

Rudi Johnson has rushed for 1,133 yards and 11 touchdowns for Cincinnati, but he had little chance of making the Pro Bowl in a conference with LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker.

The Bengals had a four-game winning streak snapped last Monday in a 34-16 loss at Indianapolis.

Peyton Manning threw for 282 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Marvin Harrison, to lead the Colts. Palmer was just 14-of-28 for 172 yards.


Passing Leaders

A. Dalton64.233981917
M. Sanu100.07910
P. Manning66.247273915
B. Osweiler40.05210

Rushing Leaders

J. Hill22211245.19
G. Bernard1686804.05
C. Anderson1798494.78
R. Hillman1064344.13

Receiving Leaders

A. Green69104115.16
M. Sanu5679014.15
D. Thomas111161914.611
E. Sanders101140413.99

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

Total YardsCIN
Yards PassingCIN
Yards RushingCIN
Yards AllowedCIN
Pass Yds AllowedCIN
Rush Yds AllowedCIN

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

Denver leads 2-1
Oct 25, 2004CIN 23, DEN 10
Sep 7, 2003CIN 10, DEN 30