In a matchup of a strong defense versus a potent offense, the Cincinnati Bengals travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in this weekend’s third wild card round playoff game.
#5 Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) at #4 Indianapolis Colts (11-5) ★★★★★
Early Sunday game on CBS
Announcing crew: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
Final Line: Colts favored by 3½
Point Total: over/under 47½
Money Line: Bengals +170; Colts -200
Home/Away: Bengals 5-3 on the road, Colts 6-2 at home
Points Scored: Bengals 22.8 (15th), Colts 28.6 (6th)
Yards per Game: Bengals 348 (15th), Colts 407 (3rd)
Giveaways: Bengals 26 (T-21st), Colts 31 (T-29th)
Points Allowed: Bengals 21.5 (12th), Colts 23.1 (19th)
Yards Allowed: Bengals 359 (22nd), Colts 343 (11th)
Takeaways: Both teams with 26 (T-10th)
Turnover Differential: Bengals even (T-16th), Colts minus-5 (T-22nd)
Cincinnati has a good offensive line and a strong running game. Jeremy Hill rushed for 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry, despite not becoming the club’s primary back until the eighth game of the season. His bruising style is a perfect compliment to the quick shifty style of Giovanni Bernard, who totaled 1,029 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns despite missing three games with hip and shoulder injuries. The lighter workload has been beneficial for the 5’9″ Bernard, and the thunder and lightning backfield can wear down and demoralize opposing defenses.
As we saw in week eleven when Jonas Gray rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns, the Indy defensive line can be pushed around by a strong offensive line. That is exactly what I expect to happen today, even if the Colts stack the line of scrimmage with safety help. The Bengals will be without WR A.J. Green, but Mohamed Sanu (56 receptions for 790 yards and five touchdowns) produced as the number one receiver earlier this year when Green missed some time. Cincinnati has held seven opponents to 16 or fewer points this year, which is the second best in the NFL. Indianapolis on the other hand has struggled offensively down the stretch; the Colts are averaging 23 points per game since their week 10 bye, despite scoring 49 in week 13 against Washington.
Earlier in the week I took the Bengals when they were getting 4½ points for four units, and two units on the under at 49. Even though those numbers have dropped, I would still side with the Bengals and the points as well as the under.
Pick • Bengals 24, Colts 20
Bengals +3½ (two units)
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