(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The Colts will make the short 2 hour bus ride over to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati Sunday Afternoon to take on the surprising 3-2 Bengals. Well, they aren't that surprising to me, as you might have noticed with the Winning Stats Predictor picks, as I think it has picked them each week, including their last two over the Bills and Jaguars. The Bengals are led by a pair of rookies on Offense, QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green, and a pretty good defense as well. While it might have looked like a fairly easy win for the Colts before the season, that certainly won't be the case on Sunday.
The last time the Colts and Bengals played was last year, a 23-17 Colts win that saw the Colts jump out to a 17-0 lead (why does that sound familiar?) before hanging on in the last minute, thanks to back-to-back sacks by Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney on the Bengals final drive of the game. The Colts have won the previous 7 meetings with the Bengals, dating back to 1998, and last year was the closest of the 7. The Colts hold a 16-8 record all time against Cincinnati.
What can we expect this Sunday between these two teams? Let's jump in and take a look...
Adjusted Statistical Comparison for the Colts and Bengals:
|Avg Start Pos||26.7||31||33.5||27||33.5||5||25.8||2|
|3 and Outs||4.45||22||3.21||24||4.46||23||5.80||1|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.718||12||0.672||24||0.409||1||0.699||21|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||37.18||20||39.52||22||39.87||12||36.01||5|
Keys to the Game:
- Let's start with the Bengals Offense vs. the Colts Defense. The Bengals have been best in the league at not turning it over and not committing penalties, meaning they don't beat themselves. The Colts won't be able to take advantage of these, which means they'll have to line up and stop them from moving the ball.
- Speaking of moving the ball, the Bengals aren't setting the world on fire in the drive-related stats, especially on 3rd/4th down. Want to know how the Colts can win? Get the Bengals off the field on Third Down. Simple as that. We'll see if the Colts can do it.
- The Bengals have had very good success running the football this season, but haven't been breaking the long runs, hence the low Yards per Carry. This will be a tall task for the injury-riddled interior of the defensive line for the Colts, although it looks like we may see Fili Moala back this week. They did well early in the season, but that was before the injuries. Hopefully we see some better play.
- The past two weeks the Colts have scored three of their five touchdowns on 50+ yard plays, and I think they're going to have to continue doing that this week, as one of the few things the Bengals are vulnerable at is a high ANPY/A. Couple that with all the very good drive stats, and the picture becomes clear. Look for the big hitters for the Colts.
- The Colts looked much improved in the Red Zone last week, scoring two TDs in both trips inside the Chiefs 20, and it looks like the Bengals have had no problem stopping teams between the 20s, but once you get into the Red Zone teams have been scoring 7. If the Colts can get there, they'll need to score TDs again.
- With Joseph Addai most likely out for the game, the Colts rushing attack will already be behind the 8-ball when they go up against one of the best run-stopping defenses in the league so far this season. Don't expect big things from the running game, but anything positive is a bonus.
I've picked the Colts to win the past two weeks, and they had chances to win despite playing statistically really bad games. I feel like the pieces are there, if only they can put it together for 60 minutes. While the Bengals are clearly a better team than the Colts, it's a game the Colts can win if they can play the whole game. Until they do, however, I can't pick them to win. I think the Colts will come out playing well, take an early lead, but the Bengals will slowly but surely take a hold of the game, winning by a touchdown at the end. The long season just keeps getting longer.
Bengals 30, Colts 23