Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 26, 2017 at 4:47 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2-5) AT CINCINNATI BENGALS (2-4)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Paul Brown Stadium. TV: CBS, Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta.

SERIES HISTORY: 28th regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 17-10. Indianapolis has won eight of the last 10 regular-season meetings, including a victory in 2014 (27-0). The Colts are 10-6 vs. Cincinnati at home and 7-4 in road games. Indianapolis also posted a 26-10 home-field win over the Bengals in a 2014 AFC Wild-Card playoff game.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Play a complete game. That's something that Indianapolis has yet to do seven games into the season. The Colts want to be more consistent on offense, especially when they have the ball in the red zone. Indianapolis has to be able to finish off drives. The offense has scored just 119 points and seven passing touchdowns.

Defensively, the Colts are hoping to find a way to put needed pressure on Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton. The Colts have recorded just 13 sacks this season.

Frustration boiled over for the Bengals this week after a crushing loss at Pittsburgh that dropped them to 2-4 and seemingly out of the playoff race. Rookie Joe Mixon expressed frustration over having zero carries in the second half and A.J. Green went without a touch after halftime as well.

But, against the Indianapolis Colts' 31st-ranked defense, expect both to be a big part of the game plan. The Bengals can ill afford to lose to a battered Colts team at home. Cincinnati's defense played well in the second half at Pittsburgh, so look for them to keep the pressure on Colts QB Jacoby Brissett, who was sacked 10 times last week.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

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Colts RBs Frank Gore and Marlon Mack vs. Bengals' run defense. Gore has 322 yards rushing and is averaging 3.4 yards per carry. Mack, a rookie, is expected to get more touches as the season progresses. He has rushed for 156 yards in limited duty and is averaging 4.9 yards per attempt. Cincinnati is ranked 14th in the league in run defense, allowing 111.3 yards per game.

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Bengals WR A.J. Green vs. Colts' secondary. Green has hauled in 35 passes for 545 yards and three TDs. He has been a major thorn in the side of the Indianapolis defense in recent seasons. Green is a big-play threat and Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton does a good job of putting him in position to make things happen. Indianapolis' injury-riddled pass defense is allowing 300.7 yards per game.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Colts OT Anthony Castonzo. After getting off to a sluggish start this season, left tackle Anthony Castonzo has rebounded well over the last several weeks. Over the first two weeks of the season, Castonzo allowed eight quarterback pressures and three sacks. But in the last five weeks, he has allowed eight quarterback pressures and two sacks. Castonzo has struggled over the last two seasons. Still, when healthy and on top of his game, the seven-year veteran is one of the better left tackles in the league.

FAST FACTS: Colts QB Jacoby Brissett aims for his third game in a row with no interceptions. He's tied for the lead among NFL QBs with three rushing TDs. ... RB Frank Gore has 180 rushing yards (90 per game) in two career meetings. He ranks seventh in NFL history with 13,387 rushing yards. ... S Matthias Farley had a forced fumble and fumble recovery last week. He is one of two NFL safeties (Devin McCourty) with 45-plus tackles (45) and an interception in 2017. ... Bengals QB Andy Dalton has nine passing TDs and four interceptions in the past four games. In three career meetings, he has four passing TDs and no interceptions. He has 151 TD passes since entering the league in 2011 and is one of nine QBs with 150 TD passes over that span. ... RB Giovani Bernard had 148 scrimmage yards (99 rushing) in his only home meeting against the Colts. He is one of two NFL RBs (Matt Forte) with 175 catches (198), 1,800 receiving yards (1,834) and eight TD catches (8) since entering the league in 2013. ... DE Carlos Dunlap had a half-sack and a forced fumble in the last meeting. He is one of six active NFL DEs with 50 sacks (58) and 15 forced fumbles (16) since 2010.

PREDICTION: What's discouraging about the Colts' season is not just that they're losing, it's that they're getting blown out regularly. That could happen again here.

OUR PICK: Bengals, 24-12.

--Bucky Dent

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