My favorite thing about Indiana is this. My second favorite thing is this scene from the motion picture “Hoosiers.” Number three is probably this. Everything else about the Hoosier state is tied for last. However, this man is Indiana in a microcosm.
History fact you may not have known: Back 100 years ago or so, Indiana decided to invade Kentucky. They lined up along the Ohio river and threw dynamite over into Louisville. The surprised Kentuckians quickly rallied, lit the dynamite, and threw it back; thereby quickly quashing the Hoosier invasion.
On to football:
Once again, the Bengals will hit Interstate 74 toward Indianapolis for their fourth consecutive playoff appearance. Lets hope its more than another postseason cameo. Yes, the Bengals have qualified for the playoffs for the 4th straight season. Only two teams have longer active playoff appearance streaks. The Packers and Patriots have made it for their sixth straight year.
We all know that the Bengals have lost in the first round the previous three seasons. In fact, this is the Bengals sixth playoff appearance in the last 10 years, putting them at 0-5. The last time the Cincinnati franchise of the NFL won a playoff game, Hale Irwin was the US Open champion, West Germany was still a thing, the WWW (html) had just been invented, and the Reds were World Champions.
So this is of course a not so detailed post about how the Bengals (10-4-1) are going to beat the Colts (11-5).
First, these are two completely different teams than what matched up back on October 19th. And this is the NFL. No NFL game that took place in October has any bearing on what is going to happen in the playoffs. The Bengals had no identity back then and the Colts played their best defense of the season, shutting the Bengals out 27-0. The Colts defense finished the regular season ranked 20th in passing TDs given up and 21st in rushing TDs given up. The even better news is that the Colts rushing defense finished 23rd in yards per rushing attempt.
Jeremy Hill had 4 rushing attempts on October 19. Things have changed since then.
After holding the Bengals to 135 yards of total offense, the following week the Colts gave up over 600 yards to the Steelers and allowed over 400 total yards on three more occasions. On paper, this is a game the Bengals are capable of winning. Their strengths match up with the Colts weaknesses on both sides of the ball.
AJ Green has been missing from the Bengals practices this week due to the NFL concussion protocol. Green is probably going to play. With Green back and the Bengals running game much improved, the Bengals should be able to put points on the board.
However, the question is how much pressure can the Bengals put on Andrew Luck. Last week against the Steelers, it didn’t appear that the Bengals were even trying to rush the quarterback. I think that was as much about game planning against big Ben as it was the lack of a pass rush. The Bengals do not have a very good linebacker core and they have trouble defending the middle of the field. Roethlisberger should be the league MVP; he’s been amazing and I think Paul Guenther had a decent game plan.
The Bengals will have to get some pressure on Luck, force a turnover, and play much better on special teams than did last week, if they are going to have a chance to win the game. The Colts have only scored more than 27 points once since November 3rd. Luck has thrown 5 interceptions in his last 4 games and looked lost against the Cowboys. Hopefully the Bengals can find a way to get some pressure on the quarterback and continue their streak of forcing turnovers (9 in last 3 games),
I believe the Colts to be the best possible opponent for the Bengals out of all the remaining playoff teams. With that said, there is a lot of history that says the Bengals can win but won’t. But then, Vegas only has the spread at 3, in favor of the Colts. Any home playoff team is going to get at least 3 versus the Bengals. I think that spread shows lack of respect for the Colts defense. I’m with Doc on this one, the Bengals will win.
Its okay to be negative about the Bengals. The negativity makes the winning sweeter. So start off your New Year with a big glass of Who Dey Kool-aid.