The Bengals face off against the Indianapolis Colts for the 19th time in the last 20 years tonight in Paul Brown Stadium for the team's last 2011 preseason game. The Bengals lead the preseason series 13-6 and have won the last seven games.
Here are some match ups to watch for when the Bengals take the field at 7 p.m. in Cincinnati. This one is....
Colts Running Game vs. Bengals Front Seven
The Colts' main offensive weapon is, and has been for the past 14 years, Peyton Manning. Unfortunately for the Colts, Peyton Manning won't be on the field Thursday night when they play the Bengals -- Kerry Collins will be. I would be delusional to think that Collins is nearly as good as Manning, especially since he hasn't taken a single snap so far this preseason.
While I fully expect Collins to get plenty of work throwing the ball, I also expect the Colts to rely on the run a little more than usual tonight. In the backfield, the Colts have Joseph Addai and Donald Brown as their two main running backs with Javarris James and rookie Delone Carter backing them up.
Since Addai hasn't played a complete season since his rookie year in 2006 and Donald Brown has not been productive, Carter, the team's fourth-round pick this year could see some more playing time tonight.
Whoever is in the backfield for the Colts tonight, they will have to face a fairly stingy Cincinnati run defense. Despite giving up a few decent runs here and there, the Bengals have looked solid against the run. Rey Maualuga's move to middle linebacker has been great; he seems to be playing on instinct and has a nose for the football. Both outside linebackers Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard looked impressive against the Panthers and the team is getting run-stopping defensive tackle Pat Sims back, though it's not entirely clear if he'll play tonight even though he practiced this week.
I fully expect to see the Bengals stop the run and force Collins or Curtis Painter to throw the ball. Not having Peyton Manning is a huge weakness for the Colts' offense and the Bengals strong run defense could easily exploit it.