Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday November 14th, 2010 1:00 PM EST
Line: Indianapolis -7
The Colts lost a tight game against Philadelphia last week to bring them to a 5-3 record. They have been banged up this season, and they were bitten by the injury bug again on Sunday when wide receiver Austin Collie suffered a scary injury against the Eagles.
The Bengals show flashes of brilliance but are struggling to stay a cohesive unit. After winning two of their first three, they have lost their last five games.
With both teams falling apart, this game will be very telling of how each team will respond to adversity.
Keys to the Game
- Terrell Owens caught 10 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort, but his extra-curricular involvement stood out more than his play. T.O. loves attention. He was well-behaved when there weren’t any cameras on him in Buffalo, but on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Owens jumped at the chance to have the spotlight on him. Along with his play escalating, he also could be seen visibly breaking down his quarterback. Carson Palmer is struggling, and T.O. has a history of being involved in confrontations. After a poor throw that targeted Owens, he took it upon himself to go stand behind Palmer and his quarterback coach while they were looking at photographs from the previous drive. We are seeing exactly why teams were hesitant to pull the trigger and sign him.
- Peyton Manning finds talent in unlikely places, but he is going to struggle with the receivers that he now has to throw to. Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon are the lone remaining members from the original group of receivers that began the season. The Colts run a one running back offense and constantly have three and four wide receiver sets. Jacob Tamme, Blair White and Brody Eldridge are three guys that are going to see a lot of action. While they aren’t household names, the fate of the Colts rests in their hands. Scary.
- Cedric Benson has to return to form. The Colts are adequate at shutting down the pass but struggle mightily against the run, allowing 140.9 yards a game. Benson was a key to the Bengals' success last season. He has shown flashes of his old self but remains a non-factor in most games. The Bengals have an opportunity to take advantage of the Colts' soft defensive front. Gary Brackett is banged up, which won’t do any favors for the Colts. Cedric Benson will need to take it upon himself to get it done, because Carson Palmer is struggling mightily.
- Every single week it seems as though it is going to be the week Carson Palmer finally puts it together—and each time, he disappoints. Palmer’s numbers do not show his struggles. Terrell Owens has produced as a result of his counterpart, Chad Ochocinco, drawing the attention of defenses. Owens is frustrated with Palmer, and even though he might have an 83.6 QB rating this season, this is by far his worst-looking season. Palmer’s elite pinpoint accuracy is a thing of the past. With Ochocinco on lock down and Owens growing increasingly frustrated, it is only a matter of time before a meltdown occurs.
- Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney make it difficult for teams to avoid pressure. Most teams are lucky to have one great pass rusher. The Colts have two. This makes it difficult for teams to shift help to the side where the pressure is coming from. Palmer is already rattled, so if the Colts can make him feel the heat without bringing extra defenders, Cincinnati is in for a long night. Andre Smith fared well last week against the ferocious Steelers pass rush. He will need to get it done by himself again at right tackle because the blind side is likely to cave in.
The Colts are going to have their hands full with the Bengals receiving corp, regardless of how Carson Palmer plays. This is going to free up some running room for Cedric Benson. On the other side of the ball, No.18 is running out of people to throw the ball to. They can’t resort to the run, so unless Peyton Manning can turn players who barely made the roster into weapons, the Colts are going to struggle.
The Colts are going to be battling injuries the rest of the year as they fight for their playoff lives. While they are undefeated at home, I don’t see them blowing many teams out the rest of the season. Bengals get the nod, though they still lose by a narrow margin.
Free NFL Pick: Cincinnati +7