CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 25: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass in the first half of an NFL preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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.....
Bengals Passing Game Vs. Colts Defense
Rookie Quarterback Andy Dalton will be leading the Bengals on the field for the last time before the games start to count. He didn't look terribly impressive against the Lions or Jets, even though he did eventually settle down and move the ball in the first two games, but he looked very good against the Panthers in the third preseason game, leading the Bengals offense to score 24 points in the second quarter.
Behind an offensive line that's more built to run the ball than protect the passer, Dalton will face one of the better pass rushing defensive end duos in the NFL -- Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Both Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith will have their hands full keeping these two in check as Dalton tries to find his receivers downfield.
Those receivers, A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson, will be going up against Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey, the Colts starting cornerbacks. Both of them are entering their third season and neither of them have started a full season's worth of games. Behind them, the Colts have Melvin Bullitt and Antoine Bethea at the safety positions.
If the Colts pass rush can't get to Dalton, somebody out of a group of Simpson, Green, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham will get open and Dalton will hopefully find them. Green and Simpson are both extremely talented and to leave corners without a ton of experience out on islands with them might not be a wise choice. The Bengals passing game could be especially effective if they are able to run the ball with ease.
The main question about the Bengals passing game is going to be whether or not the offensive line can give Dalton a clean pocket. If they can, the Bengals can have some success through the air. If not, then Dalton's in for a long night.