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2018 opponent scouting report: Week 1, Bengals special teams and a prediction

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Training Camp Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NE

Overview

On September 9, 2018 the Indianapolis Colts will host the old-look Cincinnati Bengals. In this week one match-up I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea of how they may attack our new-look Colts.

The Bengals finished 2017 with 7 wins and 9 losses, their second straight 9 loss effort. The last time these two teams faced off the Bengals came out victorious, winning 24 to 23 in week eight of 2017. Our Colts held a lead until the 7:05 mark of the fourth quarter when Jacoby Brissett threw a pass intended for Jack Doyle that was tipped, intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Carlos Dunlap. The Bengals moved ahead and the Chuck Pagano led Colts seemed uninterested in mounting a 1 point comeback in the final seven minutes of the game. Let’s hope 2018 yeilds different results.

Let’s figure out what we can expect in week one.


Kicker: Randy Bullock

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Bullock is a career 83% kicker. 2017 was a career year for the well traveled kicker, going 18 for 20 on field goals and 31 of 33 on PAT’s.

Bullock might be needed in this game. He might not be. Last season saw him dialed in like never before but we don’t know if his success is sustainable or if he was a one and done kind of player. Hopefully for the Colts he shanks all of his attempts.


Punter: Kevin Huber is a Famous Punter.

  • You might remember this:

He received a broken jaw and neck. Seriously he a cracked vertebrae on this play.

  • You also might remember this:

Because it was the smoothest move any punter has ever made.

Other than those two memorable clips, Huber is also a really good punter. He averaged 46.6 yards per punt and downed 32 inside the 20 yard line.

He may not get to punt on Sunday but if he does, he’ll be good at it.


Returner: Alex Erickson

  • The kind of thing that I would get mad at when I was a kid playing Madden because it was unrealistic:

Erickson is a good but not great returner. In 2017 he averaged 20.7 yards per kick return and 7.1 per punt return. He’s never taken one in for a touchdown but he looks the part of a good returner, able to see lanes and find a few extra yards some might miss.


Final Thoughts for The Week

The Bengals have changed a lot while somehow not changing at all. Their offensive and defensive coordinators each bring a new(ish) system with them and the talent the Bengals added in the off season actually looks to be good.

Andrew Luck has been a special player his entire career. When he has been healthy he’s given the Colts just enough to win games they shouldn’t have been able to win. Honestly that’s the only hope I have for our Colts in this one. I feel that the Bengals have more talent at every position but quarterback, tight end and offensive line.

If Luck is actually back, this game could be a Colts win. If he’s rusty, I don’t see us winning against this Bengals team.


Prediction

Colts 31

Bengals 24

Fingers crossed for an elite Andrew Luck.