The Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts are both coming off of big wins last weekend that gave each team breathing room in their respective divisions. The Colts will make the short trip down to Cincinnati this weekend to take on the Bengals. This game could have a lot of implications riding on it as far as playoff seeding goes. Right now, the Colts sit at the three seed and the Bengals at the four spot. The team that wins this game on Sunday will have the inside track to the three seed come playoff time and will have a better chance at chasing the surging Patriots for the number two slot.
In Indy’s 39-33 October 20th win over the then-unbeaten Broncos, they lost wide receiver Reggie Wayne for the season to a torn ACL. Everyone knew this would be a setback to the offense, but no one thought it would take as much of a toll as it has. In the seven games that Wayne played this season, the Colts were averaging 26.7 points per game. Without Wayne, they are averaging a touchdown less at 19.6 points per game.
Despite the drop off in production and embarrassing losses to Arizona and St. Louis, the Colts have won three of their last five and with a win over the Bengals on Sunday will clinch the AFC South division title. With a struggling offense and the Bengals’ defense playing as strong as it has all season, this looks to be a tough feat for the Colts, especially since the Bengals have yet to lose a game at home all season.
Last week in San Diego, the Bengals’ defense was facing a red hot Phillip Rivers and were able to silence him fairly easily, forcing turnovers and applying pressure. With the Colts’ offensive line struggling to protect Andrew Luck, and T.Y. Hilton still adjusting to being the Colts’ number one receiver, things are not looking up in favor of the Colts. Just like the Colts, the Bengals can feel the AFC North division title on the tips of their fingers.
This game is going to come down to which offense can put together the best production. The Bengals’ offense has been inconsistent all year long, and Andy Dalton has already thrown 16 interceptions this season. Starting against the Colts, the Bengals need to find the consistency they have been lacking and get on a hot streak going into the playoffs. They look set to do that as Andy Dalton had a fairly decent second half against the Chargers last week after looking dismal in the first half. Andrew Hawkins had his best game of the season last week since coming off of the IR and he will be the Bengals’ secret weapon as they go into the final five games of the season and into the playoffs.
This game will be a battle of two offenses looking to get on track to put together a late season hot streak to ride into the playoffs. If the Bengals win this, they will be on the inside route to the number three seed in the AFC and can chase the Patriots for the second seed. They hold the tie breaker over the Patriots, as they beat them early this season on October 6th.
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