Following the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 win against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football, the Indianapolis Colts learned they will be facing the latter in the Wildcard round of this year’s playoffs.
Oct 19, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts free safety Sergio Brown (38) and cornerback Vontae Davis (21) defend a pass intended for Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham (84) during the fourth quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts defeated the Bengals 27-0. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
In theory, it presents a much more favorable matchup for the team, as the Colts previously defeated the Bengals 27-0 in Week 7 of this year’s regular season. In that decisive victory, the Colts had the franchise’s 1st defensive shutout since 2008. Not only were the Bengals held to 135 total offensive yards, but they were just 1-13 on 3rd down conversions, an incredibly low percentage.
Bengals starting quarterback Andy Dalton was just 18 for 38 for 126 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. However, the Bengals have begun to feature running back Jeremy Hill more in recent weeks, as part of a heavier power rushing attack. A 2014 2nd round pick of the Bengals, Hill has 222 carries for 1,124 rushing yards (5.1 ypc) and 9 touchdowns on the season in what has been a very impressive rookie campaign.
It’s also worth noting that Bengals’ star wideout A.J. Green did not play in Week 7 against the Colts because of a toe injury, but should play in the teams’ upcoming matchup. When healthy, Green is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and gives the Bengals their best deep threat and receiver. Green has 69 receptions for 1,041 yards and 6 touchdowns on the season.
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The Colts have struggled against elite quarterbacks and offenses all season, and while they certainly cannot look past the Bengals, their 1st round playoff matchup could’ve been presumably
While Andy Dalton can be a very good quarterback at times, he’s not quite on the same level of the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger or any of the other AFC playoff quarterbacks for that matter. Still, the Bengals are a formidable foe, and even though the Colts easily handled them in Week 7, their offense will look a bit different and conversely more potent with both Hill and Green now factoring into the equation.
Aug 28, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) carries the ball during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 35-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports