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NFL Week 1 preview: Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts

Can the Bengals get the 2018 season off on the right foot in Week 1 with the “I-74 Bowl”?

Wild Card Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We’re taking a look at each of the Bengals’ 2018 opponents, starting with the Week 1 game against the Colts. That game is still months away, but what can and should we expect to see from Indianapolis?

Team: Indianapolis Colts


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After a couple of subpar seasons, the Colts let go of Chuck Pagano after six seasons with Indianapolis. In comes Frank Reich, who not only orchestrated one of the NFL’s biggest postseason comebacks, but also was the offensive coordinator for last year’s Super Bowl winning Eagles squad.

2017 Record:


Recapping last season:

Like the Bengals in recent years, the Colts have been in “backslide mode”. Though unlike Cincinnati, their struggles have been attributed to Andrew Luck missing 26 games over the past three seasons.

His shoulder injury is still s bit of a mystery, but if he’s healthy, he should thrive under Reich’s new system. The offensive line was a mess, allowing a league-leading 56 sacks, while the defense wasn’t much better, as they were 30th in yards allowed per game last year.

History with Cincinnati:

These teams have quite the preseason history, as they annually end the summer with a head-to-head battle because of the cities’ geographic proximity to each other. However, the regular and postseason results haven’t fared well for the Bengals.

Cincinnati is 11-19 all-time against the Colts, including the 0-2 postseason mark against the club. A lot of those regular season losses were at the hands of Peyton Manning, but Luck has a 2-1 record against the Bengals since taking over at quarterback. The Bengals did beat the Colts last year though with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.

The Bengals will face the Colts in back-to-back weeks this year, to close out the preseason and to open the regular season.

2018 season outlook:

Indianapolis did a lot to address their roster shortcomings from last year. Veteran offensive lineman Matt Slauson was added to the fold, as was receiver Ryan Grant and tight end Eric Ebron.

The Colts had five picks in the first three rounds of the draft and beefed up both their offensive line and their defensive front seven. Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith will aid with the protection of Luck, while Darius Leonard, Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis were brought in the toughen up the defense.

Of course, the Colts’ season almost all but resides on Luck and his health. He just started throwing footballs for the first time since October, and they’re not yet NFL-regulation footballs but ones used in high school games.

Cincinnati game date/time:

Week 1, Sunday, September 9 at 1 p.m. ET


Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

Odds of a Bengals victory:


The very early outlook:

If there’s a good time for the Bengals to face Indianapolis, it’s in the very first week, given Luck’s possible unavailability or rust. Cincinnati has made moves to bolster their own 2017 weaknesses on the offensive line and on defense.

Guys like Preston Brown, Chris Baker, Sam Hubbard, Cordy Glenn, Billy Price and a myriad of others should provide immediate upgrades for the Bengals as they take the field in Week 1. However, they’ll be missing one of their best players as Vontaze Burfict will be starting a four-game suspension.

Both of these teams are in a bit of a rebuild, so the victory will come down to how fast some of their young players have matured. The top two 2017 draft picks of John Ross and Joe Mixon figure to be heavily-featured for the Bengals, so they, along with the play of Luck, may be the difference-makers in this contest.