Weather and defense gives the Bengals several advantages

Paul Bussi-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts haven't played in rough weather yet this year and Andrew Luck can't remember the last time he played in snow. Match that with an opportunistic defense forcing turnovers, the Bengals have several advantages this weekend.

It doesn't appear that either offense will benefit much from the pending inclement weather on Sunday, with an early forecast of "about an inch of snow and a tenth of an inch of ice." There will be some wind, but nothing like the impact it had against the Baltimore Ravens earlier this season. But if our recollection of wind-induced games draws comparisons to games impaired by ice (week 17 against the Jets), give me the wind every time.

However, the Colts haven't played with significant weather yet this season. They've played six home games inside the Lucas Oil Stadium and their away games have been played in San Francisco (sunny and 66 degrees at kickoff), Jacksonville (cloudy and 80 degrees), San Diego (clear and 69 degrees), Houston (clear and 60 degrees with roof open), Tennessee (clear and 44 degrees) and within the dome in Arizona.

Andrew Luck, who played high school football in Houston and college ball in Stanford, hasn't played in snow for a long time.

"I probably haven’t played in the snow since I was throwing a football around as a kid, so [I’m] very excited about [the possibility]," Luck said Wednesday. "I think there’s something about it that’s fun, so we’re looking forward to it."

It's not like Indianapolis' passing offense has been successful even under the most controlled circumstances recently. Since Reggie Wayne suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Denver Broncos, Luck has thrown five touchdowns and five picks in the past five games -- and three of those touchdowns were against the Houston Texans in week nine. And in the past four games, Luck has thrown two touchdowns and five interceptions.

Against the Tennessee Titans last week, Luck was sacked five times but he hasn't surpassed 300 yards in the last three games and in three of the past five games, Luck hasn't surpassed a passer rating of 66.

That doesn't mean the Marvin Lewis will take Indianapolis' offense lightly.

"They're doing a nice job on offense," said Lewis on Wednesday. "They obviously throw the football effectively. The quarterback is playing very efficiently. He's a good athlete. He runs, keeps plays alive and gets the ball down the field, so we have to play very well on defense."

Though Cincinnati's defense has been strong all season, they've revved up recently, generating 18 quarterback sacks in the last five games while only allowing four passing touchdowns in the last five. And in the five games this season where the Bengals are undefeated (5-0) at home, the defense hasn't allowed a quarterback to throw more than one touchdown. Add the weather conditions and the Bengals have an advantage.

However, turnovers have had a huge impact for Cincinnati's defense recently. They've intercepted Joe Flacco (Ravens), Jason Campbell (Browns) and Philip Rivers (Chargers) six times in the past three games (three picks have transferred to touchdowns) and are looking to continue a streak with a fumble recovery in five straight. Mike Zimmer's crew has already recorded interceptions against notable quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers (2), Tom Brady (1), Ben Roethlisberger (1), Jay Cutler (1), along with the six interceptions since the calendar shifted into November.

"It's going to be real football weather in Cincinnati on Sunday, so we have to be ready to take advantage of it, and get after it," said Lewis. "It's been great with our fans, and the loud crowd makes a difference."

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