After a relatively easy winner yesterday in the first of two AFC wild-card games with the Ravens, I’ll be looking to secure a perfect weekend today with the Colts and Bengals showdown. Both these squads met earlier this season, back in week 7, and things didn’t go so well for the travelling Bengals. Dalton dropped back to pass 41 times, amassing only 109 net yards, and the Colts ran all over them en route to a comfortable 27-0 win. While today’s match-up likely won’t be as one-sided, the Bengals really need to prove they can match Indianapolis in their home stadium. Making matters much worse for Cincinnati as they prepare for this contest is the status of their star receiver A.J. Green. Green has been battling a concussion all week, and has already been ruled out for action on Sunday. It could be another tough playoff opener for Marvin Lewis and his Bengals. Read on below for a more detailed game analysis and the official wager in this game, as we look to go a perfect 2-0 in this column.
Bengals vs. Colts Betting Odds:
Cincinnati Bengals +3.5 (+100)
@ Indianapolis Colts -3.5 (-120)
Over 48 (-110)
Under 48 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
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Bengals vs. Colts Pick:
A lot of people are wondering if the first meeting between these teams was merely an aberration or yet another sign of things to come in this game. The Colts were about as dominant as they could’ve been in Week 7 against the Bengals. They shut down Dalton entirely and were able to move the chains by any method of their choosing. It was an easy victory, and though you’d like to think the Bengals would have more to offer this week, I’m not so sure this is a good match-up for their football team.
For starters, it’s disastrous to go on the road in a playoff game and boast virtually no pass rush. But that’s what Cincinnati will do today against Andrew Luck. The Colts are lethal through the air, and with the Bengals generating no pressure in rushing his attempts, look for Luck to surgically pick this secondary apart. Even though the Bengals are solid in terms of coverage in the secondary, giving Luck ample time and space is a bad idea no matter how great the coverage. The Bengals only got 20 sacks in 16 games this season, meaning guys like J.J. Watt and Justin Houston recorded more than the entire Bengals team! This isn’t even taking into account just how awful the Bengals are at stopping the run. They’re easily a bottom-10 run defense in virtually every statistical category and as a result look for another big outing from Dan ‘Boom’ Herron. The Bengals defense is disastrous and the Colts just possess too many ways to move the chains today.
On the other side of the ball, it’s no secret that Andy Dalton and the Bengals have had many issues throwing the football this season. Now without their star receiver, those problems will only become greater against the Colts today. Unlike the Bengals, Indianapolis actually possesses a very dangerous pass rush, and that could really disrupt Dalton and force him into making some of those patented errors we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. The only real hope Cincinnati has in this contest, is by taking the game out of Andy Dalton’s hands, and turning it over to Jeremy Hill. The young running back has had a good year, and the Colts are susceptible to giving up big plays to opposing running backs. But that said, only having one true way of beating an opponent, isn’t likely a surefire method of winning a road playoff game.
Basically everything that the Bengals can do, the Colts can do to a higher level. Indianapolis plays excellent at home, and beats up on bad teams. And guess what? Without A.J. Green, this Cincinnati squad is a bad team. Andy Dalton has nobody to throw the ball to and will be forced into bad mistakes. Look for the Colts to stack the box and shut down Jeremy Hill in run situations, and on offense Andrew Luck should enjoy another typically stellar outing. I must admit I’m a tad stunned that the spread is hovering around 3.5/4 points hours before kickoff. This is a generous price for Indy and look for them to comfortably take care of a flawed Bengals team on Sunday.
PICK = Colts -3.5 (-120)