Colts vs. Bengals Preview: Game 1 of the regular season
The Colts start their regular season on Sunday against the same team they finished the preseason with, the Cincinnati Bengals. How do they matchup with this team in the opener?
In a scheduling oddity, the Colts play their first game against the regular season against the same team they finished the preseason against. Neither team put anything on film to help the other team in that game. But how does Indianapolis matchup with them?
On offense, it could be a long day if the Colts don’t block up front. Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap will make Andrew Luck pay if his line doesn’t hold up. But if they do, Luck could pick the secondary apart. The Bengals don’t have a very good back seven, especially without Vontaze Burfict.
Defensively, the Colts aren’t going up against an elite quarterback. Andy Dalton has had the tendency to make mistakes. Expect him to throw an interception or two, including one to Malik Hooker. A.J. Green does present a matchup issue though against Kenny Moore. Moore will definitely have his hands full with him.
Running the ball well is a concern for the Colts offense. It doesn’t seem likely that Marlon Mack will play, so they will start rookie Jordan Wilkins. Wilkins will need to be at least semi-effective to keep the Bengals defense honest. Otherwise they will just pin their ears back and go after Luck every snap.
As far as stopping the run goes, that is a big concern. The Colts defense has not shown the ability to do that on a consistent basis. With a good back like Joe Mixon coming in, the defense could be in for a long day. Darius Leonard needs to have a big day if they want to stop the run.
The good news is this game is at home so the crowd will help. The Colts will want to win their first game for new coach Frank Reich. I expect this game to be close throughout. Check back here on Friday for my prediction on who will win this game.