Five weeks ago things were different with the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts.
The Bengals were atop (and still are) the AFC North, looking like world beaters and potential Super Bowl contenders.
Andy Dalton was doing his best “Joe Montana” impersonations, was named the October AFC Offensive Player of the Month.
The Colts were (and still are) at the top of the AFC South. Andrew Luck was winning games with his arm and his feet and Indianapolis could lay claim to beating the Seahawks and 49ers in the same season.
Trent Richardson was supposed to pick up a slow and surreal running game. The defense was getting better game and with Houston starting to free fall in the NFL, they were a lock to take the division title and possibly get to the Super Bowl.
Fast forward to now - where both teams are still leading their divisions, but there are noticeable holes in their game plans. Both teams are 8-4. Both control their own destiny. And both have offenses that could score 40 points in moment’s notice. I like the Colts winning a close offensive battle, 38-34.
Here are three bold predictions for this game.
Giovani Bernard’s highlight reel
In keeping with the idea that Bernard is the future of this franchise, Bernard has his defining moments in this game. Bernard has 521 yards rushing on the season and has been a threat in the Bengals’ passing attack out of the backfield. This game showcases all his talents. Three touchdowns, 130 yards rushing and five catches for 80 yards. While the Colts have to cover the speed at receiver for this team, they will shift their attention to covering this man instead.
Thank You Hilton
TY Hilton shows he will be the next big thing in the NFL. His speed is fierce on the outside and the secondary of the Bengals like Reggie Nelson will be chasing him all afternoon. Hilton could have 200 yards receiving in this game. I have been waiting for Hilton to become Mark Duper with a better skill set. This is his chance to do so.
Mathis to the rescue
Robert Mathis got his 41st sack last week and could be in the mood for more. The Bengals' offensive line has been hot and cold this season, so Mathis and his line mates could get to Andy Dalton early and often. I could see Mathis getting two sacks, a forced fumbles and five passes defensed in this game.