Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (-6, 51.5)
When the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Indianapolis Colts for their Wild Card matchup on Sunday (1:05 p.m. Eastern on CBS), they’ll be looking for revenge. The Colts handed the Bengals a 27-0 shellacking on October 19th.
“Man, there were a lot of problems,” Bengals safety Reggie Nelson admitted. “We got beat and they got the best of us, so it’s always good going back to a stadium, back to the scene of the crime.”
Cincinnati’s offense was missing star wide receiver A.J. Green that day, and it undoubtedly contributed to the unit’s ineptitude. But Green could also be out Sunday after suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter of the team’s 27-17 loss to Pittsburgh in week 17. (Green also fumbled on the play, costing his team a chance at the go-ahead score and Cincinnati backers a shot at the cover.)
If Green can play on Sunday, he would provide a huge boost to the offense.
Fortunately for Cincinnati, other players have stepped up this year and grown into more prominent roles. That includes wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and running back Jeremy Hill. The rookie running back ran for a league-high 441 yards in December and finished the season with over 1,000 yards rushing after starting the season as a backup.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis heads into Sunday’s game after four straight weeks of mediocre (at best) football. However, having an All-Pro caliber quarterback in Andrew Luck and a high-octane passing game helps to offset many of the team’s deficiencies.
Luck will also have his full complement of wideouts on Sunday, as the team’s leading receiver T.Y. Hilton will be a full go after missing Week 16 and playing sparingly in Week 17. Future Hall-of-Famer Reggie Wayne should also be at full strength come Sunday.
With his favorite targets at full capacity, Luck should come in confident. But he also knows that the Bengals defense – which carried the team to a 3-0 start on the year, and looked like one of the most dominant units in the league at times – is not to be taken lightly.
“We have a lot of respect for what they do,” Luck said of the Bengals. “They do a lot and they do it well. … These guys do everything and do it with confidence and competence. It’s a fun team to play.”
The Colts are currently a six-point favorite in this one. The over/under is at 51.5.
(Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode].)