Kickoff: 7 p.m. Eastern.
Television: Live coverage on the Bengals Preseason Network with broadcasters Mike Watts (play-by-play), Anthony Munoz (analyst) and Solomon Wilcots (sideline analyst). The network is led by flagship WKRC-TV (CBS Channel 12) in Cincinnati. Also on the network are WKEF-TV (ABC Ch. 22) in Dayton, WSYX-TV (ABC Ch. 6) in Columbus, WLIO-TV (FOX Ch. 8.2) in Lima, WDKY-TV FOX Ch. 56) in Lexington, Ky. and WDRB-TV (FOX Ch. 41) in Louisville, Ky.
Radio: The game will air 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).
Setting the scene: The Bengals wrap up the 2019 preseason on Thursday night, when the Indianapolis Colts visit Paul Brown Stadium for the teams’ annual exhibition clash in the preseason finale. And while most of the Bengals’ starters are expected to have the night off, as is standard in this contest each year, there won’t be a shortage of intrigue or entertainment value. The Bengals’ offense figures to be led by rookie QB Ryan Finley, who has drawn praise all preseason for his impressive play. Finley has completed 73.4 percent of his passes (47 of 64) heading into Thursday night, and has three TDs, just one INT and a 99.3 passer rating.
Adding to the intrigue will be the play of rookie QB Jake Dolegala, who made his debut against the Giants last week. In a little more than a quarter of action, Dolegala, who played collegiately at Central Connecticut State, completed 10 of 12 passes for 94 yards and two TDs against the Giants, and ended the night with a 138.9 passer rating.
Another surprise from the Giants game was rookie HB Rodney Anderson, a Bengals sixth-round pick out of Oklahoma in April’s draft. After missing the first two preseason contests due to rehab from a torn ACL suffered in a college game last September, Anderson made his debut against the Giants and dazzled fans with athleticism and explosiveness.
Anderson spent four years at Oklahoma, but missed all or most of three seasons with different injuries. In 2017, his only fully healthy season for the Sooners, he rushed for 1161 yards and 13 TDs. Now fully healthy again, Anderson figures to see extended action against the Colts as he continues his return to form.
At wide receiver, college free agent Damion Willis looks to build on his impressive preseason thus far and further his push for a roster spot. A relative unknown coming out of college, Willis has turned heads since arriving from Troy University and enters Thursday’s game leading all Bengals receivers with nine catches for 118 yards and a TD.
On defense, all eyes are on the continued development of the Bengals’ young and emerging players. Perhaps the most closely watched is rookie LB Germaine Pratt, who is angling for a role in the defensive rotation at the start of the regular season. And along the defensive line, several tight roster battles figure to be shaken out against the Colts. Among those to watch in the trenches are DE Andrew Brown, DE Jordan Willis, DT Renell Wren and DT Josh Tupou.
The Bengals enter Thursday’s matchup 1-2 in preseason play, while the Colts are 0-3.
The series: The Bengals lead the Colts 16-11 in preseason play. Cincinnati holds an 8-6 edge at home, and a 8-5 record as the visiting team. The Colts, however, have won the last three preseason meetings, including a 27-26 victory last year at Paul Brown Stadium.
Since 1992, the Bengals and Colts have played every year in preseason except 2000. All 27 preseason games between the two franchises have taken place since the Colts moved to Indianapolis from Baltimore.
In the official series rivalry, the Colts lead 19-12, including 2-0 in postseason. Cincinnati, though, has won the last two regular-season meetings, including a 34-23 thriller in last season’s opener in Indianapolis. The Bengals and Colts are not scheduled to meet in the 2019 regular season.
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 met every year but one in preseason since 1992, and they met have met 10 times in the regular season and once in the playoffs since 2002.
Bengals-Colts connections: Colts C Ryan Kelly is from West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West High School) ... Colts DT Margus Hunt was originally a second-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2013, and was with the team through the ’16 season ... Bengals TE Tyler Eifert is from Fort Wayne, Ind. (Bishop Dwenger High School), and played at the University of Notre Dame ...Bengals S Jessie Bates III is from Fort Wayne, Ind. (Snider High School) ... Colts RB Spencer Ware (Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform) attended Princeton High School in Cincinnati ... Colts WR Parris Campbell, S Malik Hooker and DT/DE Tyquan Lewis all played at Ohio State University ... Bengals CB KeiVarae Russell played at the University of Notre Dame ... Colts WR Roger Lewis is from Pickerington, Ohio (Pickerington Central High School), and played at Bowling Green State University ... Colts WR Ashton Dulin is from Reynoldsburg, Ohio (Reynoldsburg High School) ... Colts S Rolan Milligan played at the University of Toledo ... Bengals LS Dan Godsil played at Indiana University ... Colts S Isaiah Johnson is from Columbus, Ohio ... Colts offensive quality control coach Gunnard Twyner played wide receiver for the Bengals in 1997 ... Bengals running backs coach Jemal Singleton coached for the Colts from 2016-17 ... Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo coached at Purdue University from 2004-11 ... Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is from Toledo, Ohio, and played (1988-91) and coached (’92-2000) at the University of Toledo ... Bengals defensive assistant Gerald Chatman coached at Ball State University from 2012-13, and at Butler University in ’14 ... Colts defensive backs/cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon played (2002) and coached (’06) at the University of Louisville.