Today the Indianapolis Colts will finally play some ‘real football’ as the Cincinnati Bengals come to town. We’re essentially getting a preview of what the team can do throughout the season, but here’s a few matchups that I’m watching in the season opener.
Colts TEs Vs Bengals LBs
Jack Doyle was second only to T.Y. Hilton last year in terms of targets with 108. The Colts didn’t have much of a secondary option at the position, but this year’s different. Eric Ebron adds a new dynamic to how the Colts tight ends can be used. A little thunder and lightning if you will. With Ryan Hewitt being almost exclusively a blocking option, Erik Swoope adds the necessary amount of the speed and ability to create mismatches within Frank Reich’s offense.
The Bengals’ linebacker situation has been a point of contention as they sit behind one of the most formidable defensive lines the Colts will play against this season. Preston Brown adds a little bit of everything to the group with Vontaze Burfict being sidelined with a suspension. Otherwise, the Bengals unit isn’t a great coverage group and the Colts have eaten up the Bengals linebackers in the past using their tight ends efficiently. And Andrew Luck is back.
Bengals pass catchers Vs Colts back seven
The Colts cornerback room has been one that most fans have felt needed an addition to bring the talent level up. Today they’re going to be matched up against one of the best pass catchers in the game, A.J. Green, and the Bengals’ version of Hilton, John Ross. Tyler Boyd has been improving as well, and now Quincy Wilson, Kenny Moore, Nate Hairston and Pierre Desir will have a perfect platform to see what they can prove.
Malik Hooker adds some interesting options over the top, and the Colts truly need to see what Clayton Geathers can truly do in a scheme that might just highlight his best attributes. The corners will also have to deal with Joe Mixon and Giovanni Bernard out of the backfield in Cincinnati’s quick passing game. Rookie LB Darius Leonard will become one of the most important pieces to success for this young roster as the season progresses, and will often the front line in stopping their running backs in space.
They’ve got their hands full with this matchup.
Colts OL Vs Bengals DL
The Colts bolstered their OL through the draft, but there are still some unknowns and real concerns especially now that Anthony Castonzo and Le’Raven Clark are inactive for Week 1. Rookie guard Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Matt Slauson will attempt to protect the interior versus a group of Geno Atkins and Andrew Billings, while the tackles (whoever that is today) will be dealing with Michael Johnson, Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson and Carlos Dunlap.
This not only will greatly affect the passing game, but with Marlon Mack out today as well, rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines are going to be expected to control the ground attack. This may be the most telling matchup on either side of the argument. The Colts were in for a real battle to begin with. Now, they’re outmanned and may be starting two rookies (Braden Smith at RT?) who will be tasked with protecting the franchise in his first game back since January of 2017.