Indianapolis Colts Opponent Scouting Report: Cincinnati Bengals Offense

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 22: Brandon LaFell /

Indianapolis travels east down I-74 to face off against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday who possess explosive offensive weapons. Who poses the biggest threat to an underwhelming Colts defense?

The much-maligned Andy Dalton will be under center for the Bengals. The Bengals switched offensive coordinators after a Week 2 loss to the Houston Texans, and Dalton had performed much better under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor up until last week against Pittsburgh. On the year, Dalton has completed 64% of his passes for 1,360 yards with 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

Dalton’s number one target is wide out and perennial Pro Bowler A.J. Green. The number 4 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft leads the Bengals with 545 yards on 35 receptions. Green possesses big-play ability and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He has 3 touchdowns on the season and 52 for his career.

Tight end Tyler Eifert, the Bengals former first-round pick, will not be a factor in Sunday’s matchup after he was placed on injured reserve. Not having to line up against Eifert will be a plus for the Colts, especially in the red zone.

Former Patriot Brandon LaFell will line up opposite Green. LaFell caught his only touchdown pass of the season last week against the Steelers.  Last year’s second round pick, Tyler Boyd and rookies John Ross and Josh Malone round out the Bengals receiving corps. The Colts must avoid one-on-one match ups with Green and force the other Bengal receivers to beat them.

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The Bengals field a three-headed rushing attack led by rookie Joe Mixon. The controversial second round pick from Oklahoma vented his frustrations this past week with his lack of touches on offense. Mixon is explosive, but to date has an average of less than 3.5 yards per carry and only one touchdown.

Giovani Bernard is the Bengals’ change-of-pace back who excels on passing downs. The Colts’ linebackers will have to be aware when Bernard is on the field. He mimics the movements of other scat-backs, such as Darren Sproles and Danny Woodhead. Bernard ripped off a 61-yard TD catch and run Week 4 against Cleveland.

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Jeremy Hill has been relegated to mostly a reserve role for Cincinnati and isn’t expected to be much of a factor in the running game.

The Bengals’ skill positions are loaded with talent, however, their offensive line has struggled to protect Dalton all season as he’s been sacked 19 times already. The Colts need to get a good push up front from Johnathan Hankins and Al Woods.

The Indianapolis secondary will undoubtedly miss injured rookie safety Malik Hooker, who was placed on IR with a knee injury. Darius Butler and Matthias Farley will have to keep the Bengals from blowing the top off the defense. Look for A.J. Green to receive his fair share of double teams from the Colts defensive backfield throughout the game.

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Though the Bengals have three quality running backs, they’ve struggled to run the ball this year. They rank 30th in the league with only 3.3 yards per carry. If the Colts have any shot to win on Sunday, they need to force the Bengals’ backs to prove they can move the ball on the ground.

The Colts’ defense will have their work cut out for them against the Cincinnati offense. Keeping Dalton uncomfortable in the pocket might be enough to force a turnover or two and improve the Colts’ chances for victory.