In their last meeting Andrew Luck and the Colts shut out the Bengals 27-0. Will there be a repeat in the playoffs?
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Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts host Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wildcard round of the 2014 NFL playoffs.
The major storyline going into this game for the Bengals is the fact that in 11 seasons under head coach Marvin Lewis and four seasons with QB Andy Dalton that they haven’t won a single playoff game. With their fourth playoff appearance in as many years beginning today one wonders how the narrative about the coach and QB will change if they beaten today the way they have in the past.
The Bengals have had an up-and-down season with the team peaking early in the season after a 3-0 start, but then went 0-2-1 in the following three games, with a 27-0 loss to the Colts on October 19th. In the final ten games of the season QB Andy Dalton led the Bengals to a 7-3 record to clinch their fourth straight playoff appearance. Unfortunately, the Bengals will be without star WR A. J. Green, who will miss the game with a concussion he suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North title game last week. Green has been one of the keys to the offense, racking up over 1,000 yards despite missing four games due to injury. The Bengals have struggled mightily without Green and are likely to struggle against in this game. Nonetheless, the team still has a great young RB in Jeremy Hill who has taken over the rushing attack and will look to do the same against the Colts.
The Colts are viewed by many as a paper tiger who only got into the playoffs on the heels of an incredibly easy schedule, which included seven games against teams with a losing record. The Colts ended up going 6-0 against the lowly AFC South division but only 5-5 against the rest of their opponents. The team has little to no rushing attack with not a single player averaging more than 35 yards/game. The true key to their success has been QB Andrew Luck, who led the league in TD passes to give the Colts the No. 6 scoring offense and the No. 3 yardage offense. Their time of possession advantage has kept the defense off the field, allowing them to stay in the top 20 in most defensive categories – but is still susceptible against the run.
Prediction: The Indianapolis Colts win the Wildcard Round – Two major factors benefit the Colts in this game: 1. The absence of WR A. J. Green, and 2. The Colts have already beaten the Bengals in a similar situation. Simply put, the Colts are a very hot team right now while the Bengals are trying to put themselves back together. It’s going to be an offseason of serious uncertainty for the Bengals, but the Colts will head to Denver next week.