The Cincinnati Bengals travel to the Lucas Oil Stadium to face the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday in a game that sees rookie sensation Joe Burrow face off with Colts' gun-slinger and NFL legend, Philip Rivers.
The Bengals come into this match on the back of a deflating 27-3 loss to Lamar Jackson's Baltimore Ravens and sit bottom of the AFC North. They will no doubt be looking for a much slicker afternoon on offense this time around.
The bad news for Bengals fans is that their team will have to rediscover their offensive rhythm against arguably the only defense to have outperformed the Ravens during the early parts of the season: the Indianapolis Colts have been first class, especially in the backfield where Xavier Rhodes and co. have already amassed a league-high nine-interceptions in the first five games.
However, it was only a fortnight ago that the Bengals produced over 500 yards of total offensive yardage against the Jaguars, proving they have big plays in them. The Colts, too, come into the game licking their wounds, having been bested by the Cleveland Browns 32-23 last time around.
Indianapolis Colts vs Cincinnati Bengals Head to Head
Since moving house from Baltimore to Indianapolis, the Colts have squared off against the Bengals 22 times, winning on 14 occasions.
In the entire history of the organization, they lead the series 19-12.
Indianapolis Colts record in the league: LWWWL
Cincinnati Bengals record in the league: LLDWL
Indianapolis Colts vs Cincinnati Bengals Team News
The Colts don't have much to worry about coming into this week's match-up: LB Darius Leonard is still unable to practice as he recovers from a groin injury but he is in line to suit up come Sunday.
TE Moe Allie-Cox is another concern: he sat out Wednesday's practice with a knee injury but could start come the weekend.
Doubtful: Darius Leonard, Mo Allie-Cox
For the Bengals, Geno Atkins looks set to continue his return from the shoulder injury that kept him out of the first three games. The star DL lined up for 19 snaps against the Ravens last week.
WR AJ Green, who hasn't exactly set the ground ablaze so far this year, has been on limited practice due to a hamstring concern but is also expected to play on Sunday.
Doubtful: Auden Tate, Giovanni Bernard
Indianapolis Colts vs Cincinnati Bengals Predicted Starters:
QB: Philip Rivers
RB: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal
TE: Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox
QB: Joe Burrow
RB: Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard (questionable)
WR: Tee Higgins, AJ Green, Tyler Boyd
TE: Drew Sample
Indianapolis Colts vs Cincinnati Bengals Prediction:
A tough game to call. Cincinnati has been much improved in pass coverage and, despite the loss last weekend, the backfield did little to damage their credentials against the Ravens.
If that kind of form continues, this could mean yet another tough day at the office for Indianapolis Colts' not-so-mobile QB, Philip Rivers, who has underwhelmed since arriving from the LA Chargers during the off-season.
Rivers has actually thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four) this season, including two vs the Browns. It's a recipe for disaster; Rivers can't be trusted just yet and Bengals' pass coverage is underappreciated.
On the other hand, the Indianapolis Colts are up against a Bengals offense that, if not for a Randy Bullock field goal during the latter moments of last week's defeat, would have registered a duck on the scorecard.
Despite having talented players like Higgins and Green in the receiving core, things just haven't clicked in the passing game. This isn't exactly surprising when you take into account the fact that rookie-QB, Joe Burrow has been sacked a league-high 22 times already - the offensive line simply isn't holding up and will be looking to do better going forward.
With both teams struggling to throw the ball effectively, this could boil down to who has the more explosive running game and that's where the Colts have the edge.
Matt Eberflus's defense is ranked 4th in the league when it comes to defending the ground game, while the Bengals defense, which has allowed 795 yards to rushing backs, ranks 31st on that same list.
Prediction: I expect both QBs to struggle with pass coverage but the Colts should take the win due to the superior running threat of rookie RB Jonathan Taylor vs the below-par rushing defense of the Bengals.Published 15 Oct 2020, 18:10 IST