Imagine you are swimming. The sun is shining, the water is clear and you feel at peace. As you bask in serenity you notice a shark to your right. Beginning to panic, you scan to the left only to see a school of barracudas. To the right or to the left, this peaceful swim cannot end well.
This is what it must feel like to quarterback against Indianapolis defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
Freeney and Mathis are the best defensive end tandem in the AFC and have been since they began terrorizing offenses in 2003. As a duo, they have combined for 176 sacks. In 2011, Freeney has four-and-a-half sacks, placing him at sixth among NFL defensive lineman. Mathis is not far behind with three-and-a-half sacks, good enough for twelfth in the NFL.
Freeney and Mathis will each take a run at Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith depending on down, distance and field position. Smith has yet to be tested like he will be on Sunday. At 335 lbs., Smith has an enormous size advantage over either Colts defender. However, Freeney and Mathis do not punish opposing offensive lineman with power, they kill them with speed.
To date, Andre Smith has not justified being taken sixth overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. Plagued by injuries and a failure to get himself in shape, Smith can begin to make good on his potential by keeping the Colts’ stellar defensive ends from hitting Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.