A more familiar opponent will head the 113 miles on I-74 W into Lucas Oil Stadium, as the Colts welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to town. The Colts and Bengals have met 3 of the past 5 years, with the Colts coming out victorious each time. Since 1998, the Colts are 6-0 against the Bengals, with 5 of those games being at home (How did it get to be that lopsided in terms of home/away?).
In 2008, the Colts jumped out early on the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Bengals, cruising to a 35 - 3 win. The Colts defense forced 4 Turnovers, including an INT for a Touchdown by Kelvin Hayden. Peyton Manning had 277 yards passing and 3 TDs in the win as well. The 2006 game, a 34-16 win for the Colts, is one of those games that don't seem that important, but in my opinion was one of Manning's greatest games. It was a week after the Jacksonville disaster, and I think that is what kick started the Colts to the Super Bowl.
The Bengals have struggled this season, off to a 2-6 start, losing their last 5 games. Last week they made a furious comeback on Monday Night Football against the Steelers, but came up 12 yards short, losing 27-21. The Bengals had a fumbled kickoff return, as well as a blocked punt, which didn't help get them any. Terrell Owens had a big night, with 10 catches for 141 yards and 2 TDs. The Steelers seemed content with shutting down Chad Ochocinco and letting Owens beat them time and time again, so he did.
After the jump we'll see how the Bengals match-up with the Colts, and what the keys to the game will be...
Adjusted Stats for each team:
|Avg Start Pos||28.6||27||29.6||13||31.6||8||30.9||20|
|3 and Outs||2.50||3||4.28||9||4.21||23||4.03||12|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.605||3||0.836||17||0.644||5||0.798||19|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||40.06||10||41.74||31||40.03||11||39.01||19|
Statistical Keys to the Game:
- The Bengals defense causes a lot of turnovers, ranking 2nd in the league. Peyton Manning was uncharacteristically erratic last week against the Eagles, throwing 2 Interceptions, which were as many as he had thrown in the first 7 games. Taking care of the ball will be critical for the Colts on Sunday.
- The Bengals defense also is good in Time of Possession / Drive and Plays / Drive. However, it doesn't look like it is because they get teams off the field early, it's because they like to give up big plays. Giving up over 5.5 Yards / Play tips this off. Look for the Colts to go down the field this week, much like last week, with hopefully better success.
- Look for a potential breakout game for Donald Brown on Sunday. 3rd worst Yards / Carry, and a not-very-good RB Success Rate show that the Bengals are ripe for a big performance from Brown.
- Why does it seem the Colts are playing the best Offenses in the Red Zone? The Bengals are ranked 5th in the league, which is the same ranking as the Colts defense. The Colts shut down the Eagles last week in the Red Zone, and they'll have to do it again.
- The Bengals have struggled sustaining drives, and the Colts will have to capitalize on that. Included in that is 3rd/4th Down Conversion %, which you've been able to tell the Colts Wins and Losses based solely on that this season. When the defense stops the opponents on 3rd/4th down, the Colts win. When they haven't, they've lost.
- Don't count on the Bengals bailing the Colts out with penalties like the Eagles did. They are 5th best in Penalty Yards / Play.
Other Keys to the Game:
- Stopping Terrell Owens. He's scored a TD in 5 straight games, and it seems like opposing defenses have decided to stop Ochocinco and let Owens get his numbers. Keep Owens out of the end zone, and it'll probably mean a Colts win. This goes hand-in-hand with getting Jerraud Powers and Justin Tryon back from injury. Thankfully Deshea Townsend is gone. He got abused last week.
- The health of Gary Brackett. It's not that I don't trust Pat Angerer to step in and play well at MLB, it's that Philip Wheeler hasn't been very good this season, and he'd be back on the field. That would mean a Linebacking Corp of Wheeler, Angerer, and Tyjuan Hagler.
- Home Field Advantage. The Colts have been unbelievable at home this year, especially defensively. The Bengals are probably the worst of the 4 teams the Colts have faced at home this year, which should mean good things for the Colts.
While no game is easy in the NFL, the Colts match-up up fairly well with the Bengals. Add in playing at home, and it becomes pretty clear the Colts should win this game handily. The Bengals are really struggling right now, and a trip to Indianapolis usually isn't the way to cure that.
Colts 34, Bengals 23