The Bengals welcome the Colts to Paul Brown Stadium this Sunday. After getting shellacked last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, can the Indianapolis offense turn in a better performance against another top rated defense?
The Bengals’ defense mimics that of the Jaguars in that they have a talented group of pass rushers up front and highly drafted, dynamic playmakers in their secondary.
The Cincinnati defense is led by All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Atkins sets the tone up front, and Colts center Ryan Kelly, if healthy, is going to have to bring his A-game if the Colts hope to keep Jacoby Brissett upright.
Atkins is a five-time Pro Bowler and has been named an NFL All-Pro four times. Aside from 2013, when he tore his ACL in a game against the Miami Dolphins, Geno Atkins has been an unstoppable force on the Cincinnati defensive line. On the season, Atkins has 4 sacks which brings his career total to 56.
Atkins has help up front from Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson. Once dubbed the “Fischer-Price” package, Atkins, Dunlap and Johnson will be putting constant pressure on the Colts’ offensive line and Jacoby Brissett. If the Colts’ O-Line falls apart as they did last week against the Jaguars, it’ll be another long afternoon for Brisett.
Vontaze Burfict has been terrorizing offenses since the Bengals picked him up as an undrafted free agent in 2012. Though controversial for his questionable hits and aggressive style of play, there is no denying Burfict’s talent.
Marlon Mack might be the best option for Indianapolis in the run game as his quick lateral movement and ability to break big runs to the outside might be the only way to avoid Burfict clogging the run game. Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers had a lot of success against the Bengals’ run defense in Pittsburgh last week.
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The Bengals’ defensive backfield has been coming on strong as of late, and second-year cornerback William Jackson III is a big reason why. Matched up against Antonio Brown last week, look for Jackson to draw the assignment of keeping T.Y. Hilton in check Sunday.
We should expect a strong effort from Hilton on Sunday, as his unhappiness with the offense’s performance suggests the coaches will look to get him involved early and often. Jackson, and if healthy Adam Jones, will be covering Hilton throughout the afternoon. Hilton has to take advantage if the Bengals leave a defender alone on an island against him.
For the Colts to walk out of Cincinnati with a win on Sunday, it starts up front. The Bengals are second in the league in total yards allowed and have 18 sacks on the season. If the offensive line has another porous performance, this game could be out of reach for the Colts early.
Establishing the run early with Mack and Frank Gore is essential. Without a solid rushing attack, Atkins, Dunlap, Johnson and talented rookie linebacker Carl Lawson will be teeing off on Brissett all day.