AFC Wild Card
(5) Bengals at (4) Colts
Bengals: For the fourth straight season, they are in the playoffs. Getting there is one thing, winning a playoff game is a completely different story. In the Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati, the Bengals have made the playoffs a total of five times. All have been losses and last season’s was arguably the worst of them all. A few weeks ago, I stated that this is the most athletic team in all of football. They have a lot of speed on defense, a front seven that can stop the run and rush the passer and a secondary that can swarm to the football and come away with a turnover. Offensively, we know about A.J. Green and what he brings to the table. Let’s look at the others around him. Mohamed Sanu became Dalton’s go to guy when Green went down with a toe injury. The one guy that’s really impressed me has been Jeremy Hill. Yes, Giovanni Bernard has been healthy but they’ve decided to stick with Hill and have used both running backs very effectively. Andy Dalton is still looking for that first playoff win and he leads the Bengals back to Indianapolis where they suffered their worse loss of the season.
Colts: Prior to the season starting, many said this was the team that would give both the Patriots and Broncos a run for their money in the AFC. They have a lot of talent on offense and a quarterback that can spread the ball around to the open guy on the field. They’ve won their division for the second straight season but I still have a lot of concerns about the Colts because they turn the ball over consistently, the offensive line is very shaky and Luck has taken some unnecessary hits, they can’t develop a running game and the defense is very up and down. I’m not ready to put them in the elite category in the AFC because they lost to both Denver and New England this past season. We all remember what happened last year with the Colts in the playoffs. They’re back at home again on Sunday in January for a rematch with Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon.
Prediction: When these two met during the regular season, the Colts shut the Bengals down. A very dominant defensive performance. A week later, they gave up 51 points and six touchdown passes to Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh so I’m very uncertain of what Colts team will show up. The Bengals will enter this game with a very big chip on their shoulder for two reasons. One, they’ve yet to win a playoff game under Marvin Lewis and secondly they were embarrassed the last time they were in Indianapolis. I like the Bengals in this one, I trust them more in this one than I do the Colts. Bengals 26 Colts 17