Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.
Television: CBS broadcast with Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta (analyst). The game will air in the Bengals home market on WKRC-TV (Channel 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Channel 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Channel 27) in Lexington.
Radio: Coverage on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).The game will also be aired to a national audience on the Sports USA radio network. Broadcasters are Larry Kahn (play-by-play) and Hank Bauer (analyst).
Setting the scene: The Cincinnati Bengals return home this weekend to take on the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium. And though both teams head into the game in very similar situations, they are likely to walk away from it with much different prospects.
Both Cincinnati and Indianapolis have just a pair of wins through Week 7, and both teams are coming off losses to division rivals last week, with the Bengals (2-4) suffering a 29-14 loss at Pittsburgh and the Colts (2-5) falling 27-0 at home to Jacksonville. And both, undoubtedly, are eyeing Sunday’s matchup as an opportunity to right their respective ships.
While last week’s loss to the Steelers may have been a setback in the division standings, the Bengals view the Colts contest as a chance to take a much needed step toward moving back into a large field of AFC postseason contenders. In attempting to take that step, Bengals QB Andy Dalton, who will make his 100th NFL start on his 30th birthday against the Colts, takes the veteran approach of looking forward, not backward.
“The Steelers game was just one game,” Dalton said. “They are in our division, but they aren’t the only team that we play. (The season) is not about us against the Steelers. It’s about us playing well overall and beating whoever we are playing (that week). Unfortunately we didn’t do it (against Pittsburgh), but our goal this week is to beat the Colts.”
To do so, Cincinnati surely will focus on returning to the formula that worked well for them in their victories in Games 4 and 5 over Cleveland and Buffalo — both the offensive and defensive units playing well for complete games. Last week at Heinz Field, an uneven balance between those units in the game’s two halves led to the disappointing defeat.
Entering the Pittsburgh game, Cincinnati ranked No. 2 in the NFL in both net yards allowed (262.8 per game) and average points allowed (16.6). But in the first half alone, the Bengals gave up nearly their average in net yards allowed to the Steelers (251) and more than their average in points (20). The Bengals’ first-half offense fared better, matching the Steelers TD-for-TD for a 14-14 tie before the Steelers added two field goals in the last two minutes of the half.
In the final two quarters, the Cincinnati defense rebounded and held Pittsburgh to just 169 net yards and three field goals, but the Bengals’ offense was unable to maintain any momentum. The Steelers recorded two interceptions and four sacks in the second half, while holding the Bengals to just 19 net yards and zero points in those last two periods.
“Defensively, we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be to start the game,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “We put ourselves behind, which is what you do not want to do in that football game on the road. Offensively, we played the first half with a good rhythm, but we needed to make sure we defended them well, and we didn’t do a good job of that. In the second half, the defense was able to settle down and hold them to field goals, but offensively, we weren’t able to get into a rhythm at all.
“There were positive plays and negative plays in the game, but it wasn’t good enough to win. We have to coach better, we have to execute better, and we have to handle each and every situation better.”
In looking to turn things around and move toward capturing an opportunity to enter the playoff picture, Dalton feels the Bengals first must focus this week on what’s going on in front of them, not what’s going on around them.
“I know it is so cliché to say we have to take it one game at a time, but all we can worry about is who we are playing this week and what we are doing,” Dalton said. “The rest will happen the way that it is going to happen. We can’t worry about the rest of these teams and what they are doing.”
The series: The Colts lead 19-10 overall (17-10 regular season and 2-0 postseason). The Colts are 8-4 in Cincinnati, but the Bengals lead the series at Paul Brown Stadium, 2-1. The Bengals have won three of the last four games played in Cincinnati, dating back to 1996.
The Bengals and Colts last met in the Wild Card round of the playoffs after the 2014 season. The Colts won that game 26-10 to advance to the divisional round. Indianapolis also beat the Bengals earlier that season at Indianapolis, 27-0. Prior to those two 2014 contests, the Bengals had won two straight in 2011 and ’13, both in Cincinnati.
The Colts franchise was in Baltimore prior to 1984. Overall, the Bengals were 4-5 against the Baltimore Colts and now stand 6-14 against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Bengals and Colts also have met 26 times in preseason, with the Bengals leading that series 16-10. The Bengals lost 7-6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in this year’s preseason finale.
Team bests from the series:
Bengals — MOST POINTS: 42, in a 42-28 win in 2013 at Paul Brown Stadium. LARGEST VICTORY MARGIN: 22, a 41-19 win at Baltimore in 1981. FEWEST POINTS ALLOWED: 9, in a 9-6 loss at Cincinnati in 1993.
Colts — MOST POINTS: 45, in a 45-37 win at Paul Brown Stadium in 2005. LARGEST VICTORY MARGIN: 32, in a 35-3 Colts win at Indianapolis in 2008. FEWEST POINTS ALLOWED: 0 (twice), in a 17-0 playoff win at Baltimore in 1970 and in a 27-0 regular-season win at Indy in 2014.
Regular-season records vs. Colts: Though the Colts and Bengals have played 29 times, the list of record-setters from past games is slim with only three entries:
● On Oct. 19, 2014 at Indianapolis, Bengals P Kevin Huber punted for 558 yards, the highest single-game total in team history.
● On Nov. 20, 2005 vs. Indianapolis, Bengals KOR Tab Perry tied the team record for most kickoff returns in a game, with eight.
● Eight players share the record for most receiving touchdowns in a game against the Bengals with three, and two of those players are former Colts. On Sept. 19, 1976 at Baltimore, Colts WR Roger Carr became the second player to record three TD receptions in a game against the Bengals. And on Dec. 18, 2006 at Indianapolis, Colts WR Marvin Harrison became the seventh player to do so.
Individually vs. Colts: Current Bengals’ past offensive performances for Cincinnati against Indianapolis in the regular season include:
● QB Andy Dalton: Three games; 2-1 W-L record; 67-for-105 passing (63.8 percent) for 665 yards (221.7 per game), with four TDs and zero INTs (passer rating of 94.3).
● HB Giovani Bernard: Two games; 19 rushes for 116 yards (6.1); six receptions for 48 yards (8.0).
● WR A.J. Green: Two games; 11 receptions for 123 yards (11.2; 61.5 per game) with two TDs.
● HB Jeremy Hill: One game; Four rushes for 15 yards (3.8).
● TE Tyler Eifert (currently on Reserve/Injured list): One game; Three receptions for 20 yards (6.7).
The I-74 rivalry: Cincinnati vs. Indianapolis is the closest geographical rivalry among cities in the AFC, with a driving distance of 110 miles along Interstate 74. The next closest is Cleveland-Pittsburgh at 137 miles.
Though the teams are not division rivals, they have played each other somewhat frequently, including in seven of the past 12 regular seasons. Preseason also has played a role in keeping the rivalry alive, as the clubs have met 25 of the last 26 years in a tune-up game.
Memorable I-74 moments: The most memorable Bengals-Colts regular-season games include:
● Oct. 22, 1989: The underdog Colts shocked the defending AFC Champion Bengals 23-12 at Riverfront Stadium. It was the second straight upset loss at home for the ’89 Bengals, a powerful team that would outscore its opponents 404-285 but miss the playoffs with an 8-8 record.
● Nov. 20, 1994: The Colts scored on a controversial late TD pass to defeat the Bengals 17-13 at Riverfront. The result stung a Cincinnati crowd of 55,566, which had gathered to celebrate “Blakemania” after seeing QB Jeff Blake deliver his first two victories in the two previous games.
● Sept. 3, 1995: Doug Pelfrey kicked five field goals, including the game-winner from 47 yards in overtime, as the Bengals won 24-21 in the season opener at Indianapolis.
● Dec. 22, 1996: The Bengals outlasted the Colts 31-24 at Cinergy Field in a game that was tied four times. The season-ending victory completed a 5-0 run at home for the Bengals under head coach Bruce Coslet, and Indianapolis was denied the home-field edge for the playoffs.
● Nov. 9, 1997: In the first significant action of his “encore stint” with the Bengals (following four years with other clubs), QB Boomer Esiason led TD drives on his first three possessions to spark a 28-13 Bengals victory at the RCA Dome. The Colts were leading 10-7 in the third quarter when Esiason took the reins for Jeff Blake, who had been shaken up.
● Oct. 6, 2002: The Colts won 28-21 at the RCA Dome, but not without a frantic finish. The Bengals rallied from deficits of 21-0 and 28-14 to pull within
28-21 with 0:53 remaining, and after recovering an onside kick, the Bengals drove to a first down at the Indianapolis 35. But on the next play, a Jon Kitna pass bounced off the hands of then-second-year WR Chad Johnson, and the Colts intercepted to preserve the win.
● Nov. 20, 2005: The Colts came to Paul Brown Stadium as the NFL’s only unbeaten team (9-0), facing a 7-2 Bengals outfit. Indy survived a shootout, winning 45-37. The Colts got three TD passes by Peyton Manning and two rushing scores by Edgerrin James. The Bengals countered with two TD passes by Carson Palmer and two rushing scores by Rudi Johnson.
● Dec. 18, 2006: Peyton Manning threw four TD passes in leading the Colts to a 34-16 win over the Bengals on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The Bengals produced only one TD from five possessions inside the Indianapolis 20. The Colts improved to an 11-3 record while the Bengals fell to 8-6.
● Nov. 14, 2010: The Bengals trailed 17-0 early in the second quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium but closed to within 23-17 with 2:35 to play on a TD catch by rookie TE Jermaine Gresham. Cincinnati then recovered an onside kick. But Gresham, who caught an astounding nine passes in the fourth quarter, gave up a fumble (lost) on the first play after the onside recovery, and the Colts held on to win 23-17.
● Dec. 8, 2013: The Bengals rolled for 430 yards in a 42-28 win at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton threw three TD passes with no interceptions, and Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck had four TD passes with no picks. Cincinnati improved to 9-4 and maintained a two-game lead over Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the AFC North. Though the Colts fell to 8-5, they clinched the AFC South title later in the day when Tennessee lost at Denver.
Bengals-Colts connections: Colts C Ryan Kelly is from West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West High School) ... Colts DE Margus Hunt entered the NFL as a second-round draft choice of the Bengals in 2013, and was with Cincinnati through ’16 ... Five Colts players played at Ohio State University: DT Johnathan Hankins, S Malik Hooker (Reserve/Injured), OLB John Simon, T/G Jack Mewhort (Reserve/Injured) and LB Josh Perry (practice squad). Mewhort is from Toledo, Ohio (St. John’s Jesuit High School), and Perry is from Galena, Ohio (Olentangy High School) ... Colts OLB Tarell Basham played at Ohio University ... Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (Reserve/Injured) is from Fort Wayne, Ind. (Bishop Dwenger High School) and played at the University of Notre Dame ... Bengals CB KeiVarae Russell also played at the University of Notre Dame ... Colts T Tyreek Burwell (practice squad), G Deyshawn Bond (Reserve/Injured) and RB George Winn (Reserve/Injured) all played at the University of Cincinnati ... Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is from Toledo, Ohio (St. John’s Jesuit High School) ... Bengals defensive quality control/defensive line coach Marcus Lewis played at Indiana State University ... Bengals RBs coach Kyle Caskey coached at Indiana State University from 2006-08 ... Colts assistant OL coach Joe Gilbert coached at the University of Toledo from 2001-03 and again in ’07 ... Colts assistant head coach/offensive line coach Joe Philbin coached at Ohio University in 1994 ... Colts LBs coach Jim Herrmann was born in Cincinnati