Slowly but surely, and at the worst possible time, the Indianapolis Colts are fading back to Earth. The Colts have been stuck in reverse since key wideout Reggie Wayne went down with a torn ACL, and nobody on the receiving corps has really been able to pick up the slack. That said, this is a battle of two first-place teams with pretty big playoff implications on the line. Both squads sit atop their divisions with identical 8-4 records and the winner has a solid shot at landing the number 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. For all the optimism surrounding the Colts in the early parts of the year, it has subsided somewhat in recent weeks and they’ll be looking to get back on track in Week 14. They’ve picked up a moniker of being soft away from home, and beating a solid team like the Bengals on the road could quickly shed them of that distinction. Expect a competitive game on Sunday, one that should be close throughout. Read on below for further game thoughts and our official selection to kick off what promises to be a thrilling Week 14 of the NFL season here at The Sports Geek.
Colts at Bengals Betting Odds:
Indiapolis Colts +7 (-120)
@ Cincinnati Bengals -7 (+100)
Over 43 (-110)
Under 43 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Colts at Bengals Pick:
The Colts enter yet another pivotal AFC clash riding a real low. Andrew Luck hasn’t been himself of late, throwing for just three touchdowns and committing six turnovers his past three contests. And while injuries have certainlyu taken their toll, that kind of rating against a ferocious Bengals defense could spell trouble, especially on the road. Losing Reggie Wayne has been hard on the sophomore quarterback, as both T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey have proven to be extremely unrealiable. Making matters worse for Luck of late is the incompetence of his offensive line. The Stanford product is getting virtually no pass protection, and that will certainly spell trouble come Sunday against Cincinnati. The Bengals simply bring the pressure, and despite Geno Atkins’ absence, Cincinnati has recorded 18 sacks in their past five games, while still sitting third in the NFL in pass defense. Look for Cincinnati to be all over Luck on Sunday.
The other thing that explains the Colts’ recent string of mediocrity, is definitely their defense. In 2012, it was abysmal, and after some early season success this year, it’s somehow reverted back to that 2012 form. That unit has conceded an average of 29.3 points per game over their past six weeks, allowing guys like Kellen Clemens and Ryan Fitzpatrick to resembles guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Indy also has a knack of getting gashed in the run game, an area where Cincinnati is very strong in. The Colts have allowed 4.4 yards per carry in 2013, and look for the Bengals to control this match-up with effective use of their ground attack. Giovanni Bernard and Benjarvus Green-Ellis have formed a formidable duo and Cincinnati should be able to ride that pair to victory on Sunday.
The Colts are fading, and doing it fast. The spread in this contest should be much higher, but it seems as if the betting pubouic have been slow to react to Indianapolis getting exposed. Expect this game to be the final nail in the coffin. The Colts are awfully soft on the road, and going against a hungry Bengals squad that is a perfect 5-0 at Paul Brown Stadium this year spells disaster for Indy. The Colts haven’t had a solid outing since beating Seattle nine weeks ago, when they were a very different team. They’ve been blown out by both the Rams and the Cardinals this season, and don’t be surprised if we add the Bengals to that list after Sunday. Take Cincy to roll by double digits.
PICK = Bengals -7 (+100)