Part 3 of a 4 part Wild Card Weekend preview.
Click here to read Cardinals at Panthers
Click here to read Ravens at Steelers
Now we are up to the Sunday matchups.  The Bengals enter the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, and the fifth in the last six years.  Their record in those games?  0-4.  Andy Dalton has never won a playoff game.  Neither has Marvin Lewis.  They travel to Indianapolis this Sunday for a matchup with the Colts.  The Colts won the AFC South easily by feasting on the poor and mediocre this season.  Four of their five losses were to playoff teams, including getting blasted by Pittsburgh, New England, and Dallas in the second half of the season.  They did beat playoff teams this season as well.  One of those teams?  The Cincinnati Bengals.  It was week 7.  27-0 Colts.  Will history repeat itself?
Bengals Offense vs Colts Defense
 AJGreenThe number one concern for the Bengals is the health of AJ Green.  Green is currently going through the concussion protocol.  With the NFL’s rule about head injuries, this is something that Green can’t “tough out.”  He must pass his baseline test to be able to play.  With Green, the Bengals ranked only 21st in passing at 218 yards per game.  Cincinnati is a running team, and has been leaning on rookie Jeremy Hill to lead the way.  Hill and Giovanni Bernard pack a good one/two punch on the ground, and should be able to attack the Colts 18th ranked run defense.  Hill was a non-factor in that game, as he only carried the ball four times.  AJ Green also missed that game with an injury, and the result was a pathetic offensive performance in which the Bengals only amassed 135 total yards.  It won’t be that easy for the Colts this time around, but Green’s health is a major concern.  Mohamed Sanu has had a nice season, but it’s been proven that he cannot shoulder the load as the # 1 Wide Receiver.
Colts Offense vs Bengals Defense
Cincinnati’s defense was supposed to be their calling card this year, but the unit has failed to impress.  The Bengals rank 20th both in rushing and passing defense, and also surrendered 500 plus yards to the Colts earlier in the season.  The Bengals do have a knack for forcing turnovers, and this is the team to do that against.  Andrew Luck, for all his (well-deserved) hype, turns the ball over a ton.  His 16 interceptions were only two behind the league leader Jay Cutler.  That is bound to happen when you throw the ball 600 times, but Luck will try to force some balls he shouldn’t.  The Bengals have to take advantage of that.  If Luck has time, he can and will pick you apart all day long.  Cincinnati has to get to the quarterback, and force the Colts to run the ball.  Mainly because they can’t.  Trent Richardson rushed for 519 yards this season.  He has been replaced by Daniel Herron, who has 351 yards in half the carries.  The Colts did not have a single game this year with a 1,000 yard rusher.  Here are their leading rushing totals for their past seven games:
15, 65, 88, 37, 60, 3, 35.
The Bengals would be insane to not sell out on the pass and make the Colts run the ball.
Special Teams
Adam Vinatieri is the best kicker of our time.  I don’t believe the Colts will need his clutch leg Sunday though/  Adam Jones was named to the All-Pro team today and could make some noise in the return game for the Bengals.
The Pick
Indianapolis wins this game easily, by 10-14 points.  Their season comes to a screeching halt next week, but that’s next week.  Colts 27- Bengals 14.