After seeing their three-game win streak snapped last Sunday in Cleveland, the Indianapolis Colts (3-2) look to get back to their winning ways when they return home Sunday to play host to the Cincinnati Bengals (1-3-1) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Check out the official game preview. Andrew Walker
INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Colts are looking to get back to their winning ways before heading into the bye week.
The Colts (3-2) on Sunday return to the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium, where they are playing host to the Cincinnati Bengals (1-3-1).
Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.
The Colts are coming off a 32-23 road loss to the Cleveland Browns last Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium, which snapped Indy's three-game win streak. The Browns' offense was red-hot in the first half, especially through the air, but after going into halftime trailing 20-10, the Colts, and especially their defensive and special teams units, were able to claw back into the game. Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield had as many second-half interceptions (two) as completions, while rookie Isaiah Rodgers took a third-quarter kickoff 101 yards to the house for a touchdown. But Indy's struggles on offense over the final two quarters - two interceptions, including a pick-six, thrown by quarterback Philip Rivers, as well as an intentional grounding penalty called from the end zone for a safety - would be too much to overcome, and the Browns would ultimately come out victorious to win their fourth straight contest.
The Bengals, meanwhile, struggled mightily last week in their 27-3 loss to the AFC North Division rival Baltimore Ravens. Cincinnati would only get on the board with 32 seconds left in the ballgame, thanks to a 38-yard field goal by Randy Bullock - otherwise this game was all Ravens. Baltimore's offense had 24 rushing attempts for 161 yards on the day, an average of 6.7 yards per carry, while its defense was absolutely dominant; the Ravens sacked rookie quarterback Joe Burrow seven times, hit him another eight times, picked off one pass and linebacker Patrick Queen scooped up a Cincinnati fumble and returned it 53 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
So what all should we be looking for when this thing kicks off? Here is the official game preview.
BROADCAST INFORMATION Sunday, Oct. 18, at 1 p.m. ET Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium TV: FOX - Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (color), Laura Okmin (sideline) Colts Official App (*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.) Colts.com mobile website (Safari browser ONLY) Yahoo! Sports mobile browser or app Click here for MORE WAYS TO WATCH. To find out what games will be on in your area, click here. Local radio: Colts games can be heard in Indianapolis on 93.5, 107.5 and 1070 The Fan and 97.1 HANK FM, plus the desktop version of Colts.com with Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color), Larra Overton (sideline) and Bill Brooks (pregame/postgame analyst) on the call. National radio: Fans can listen to the live local call on Colts.com (desktop only) and NFL Game Pass. Get your free seven-day trial by clicking here.
*Please check your local TV listing to confirm availability. iOS mobile web and app users should "Allow Location Access" (via Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Safari).
ALL-TIME SERIES Colts lead, 19-12; Colts are 11-7 all-time against the Bengals at home. Last game - Week 1 of 2018; Bengals won, 34-23, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis COACHING STAFF
HC Frank Reich OC Nick Sirianni DC Matt Eberflus STC Bubba Ventrone
HC Zac Taylor OC Brian Callahan DC Lou Anarumo STC Darrin Simmons LAST WEEK
Lost at Cleveland Browns (4-1), 32-23
Lost at Baltimore Ravens (4-1), 27-3 INJURY UPDATE
OUT - TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee); T Chaz Green (back) DOUBTFUL - LB Darius Leonard (groin) QUESTIONABLE - DT/DE Denico Autry (ankle/knee), T Anthony Castonzo (rib); DE Justin Houston (hip); RB Jordan Wilkins (calf)
Click here to read more on the injury report for Sunday's game.
OUT - N/A DOUBTFUL - WR Auden Tate (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE - CB Mackensie Alexander (hamstring) STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH Rattle the rookie? - The Cincinnati offense is led by 2020 No. 1-overall pick Joe Burrow, who went from leading LSU to the national title and putting up historic numbers to putting the entire Bengals franchise on his back. Burrow has certainly had some very fine moments in his first five NFL games, and he comes into Sunday's game against the Colts completing 135-of-207 (65.2 percent) of his passes for 1,304 yards with six touchdowns to three interceptions. He's had three 300-yard passing performances sandwiched by two blah outings Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers, and then again last Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. The Colts can certainly help themselves out in this one if they can get to Burrow early and often; the Bengals have struggled in protecting the rookie so far, as they are allowing a sack on 10.63 percent of their dropbacks, the second-worst figure in the NFL. Look for defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus to throw in plenty of disguised looks and various schemes, and maybe even a few more blitzes, to try to make the pre-snap diagnosis process as difficult as possible on Burrow. Taylor's breakout? - Jonathan Taylor has seemingly gotten better with each starting opportunity as the Colts' lead running back, and Sunday's game against the Bengals presents his best opportunity to bust out with a huge performance. The Bengals allow 159 rushing yards per game, which ranks 29th in the NFL, and 5.2 yards per carry, which ranks 30th. Cincinnati has also allowed 24 run plays of 10 or more yards and 557 rushing yards after contact, ranking tied for last and last in the league in those respective categories. The Bengals are also being forced to move on without their top interior run defender, D.J. Reader, who suffered a season-ending quad injury last week against the Baltimore Ravens. If the Colts want to get their run game going, and if Taylor wants to be the primary beneficiary to what's already been a solid start to his rookie campaign, this certainly looks to be the ideal matchup. Bye week momentum - The Colts are 2-0 under head coach Frank Reich in games immediately preceding their bye week; the team took decidedly different paths after each of those wins, however. In 2018, Indy went on the road to defeat the Oakland Raiders, 42-28, and, after its Week 9 bye, won seven of its final eight games to earn a spot in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, where the Colts defeated the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium before bowing out to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Last year, Indy went on the road to defeat the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs, 19-13, before its Week 6 bye; while the Colts won their next two games following the bye week last year, they would win just two more contests the rest of the way to miss the postseason completely. This Colts team has very much earned a few days off its feet this time around, but has to take care of business on Sunday to really enjoy its bye week. WHAT THE BENGALS ARE SAYING Joe Burrow on facing Colts' defense Zac Taylor on Week 6 matchup with Colts Colts, Bengals clash in Week 6 matchup Cincinnati Bengals Injury Report INTRIGUING MATCHUPS Colts LG Quenton Nelson vs. Bengals DT Geno Atkins - Who remembers Quenton Nelson's NFL debut Week 1 against the Bengals back in 2018? Nelson, of course, was that year's sixth-overall pick, and was about as technically sound as they come for a rookie, but the veteran Geno Atkins properly welcomed the Notre Dame product with a heavy dose of back-breaking bull rushes, and while Nelson certainly held his own most of the game, Atkins still had a sack, two quarterback hits and two tackles for loss on the day. Nelson has significantly improved since that matchup, of course, as evidenced by his two First-Team All-Pro selections. Atkins, meanwhile, made his 2020 debut last Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens after missing the first four games of the year with a shoulder injury, but is coming off his eighth Pro Bowl selection in 2019. This will be a fun one to watch on Sunday. Colts TE Trey Burton vs. Bengals S Jessie Bates III - Jessie Bates III has been one of the league's better safeties in coverage the last few seasons, and he's playing perhaps better than he ever has to start the 2020 campaign. Through five games, Bates III's 89.0 overall defensive grade from Pro Football Focus is the best of any qualifying safety in the league - by more than 10 points - while his 90.2 coverage grade is almost 14 points better than second-place Harrison Smith of the the Minnesota Vikings. Bates III will assuredly be assigned to cover Trey Burton from time to time; Burton has certainly been getting his feet wet in his first two games in Indy after missing the first three weeks of the season with a calf injury, and has 11 total targets with seven receptions for 49 yards. Colts DT DeForest Buckner vs. Bengals LG Michael Jordan - DeForest Buckner is hoping to prove he's the undisputed GOAT in this matchup against Michael Jordan on Sunday. OK, all joking aside, Buckner does have a favorable matchup in this one after taking on one of the league's top overall offensive lines last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Jordan's pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus is 45.3, which is the fifth-lowest for any qualifying offensive lineman through five games this season; he's allowed 16 total pressures, including 11 hurries, four hits and one sack, so far, according to PFF. Buckner, meanwhile, has a PFF pressure percentage of 12.9 percent, which is the fourth-best among any qualifying interior defensive lineman to this point of the season. The Colts want to rattle rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, and Buckner vs. Jordan could be the matchup the Colts need to do just that. Colts CB Kenny Moore II vs. Bengals WR Tyler Boyd - Aside from Nelson vs. Atkins up front, Kenny Moore II vs. Tyler Boyd in the slot is perhaps the best strength-on-strength matchup to keep an eye on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Moore II, of course, is one of the best all-around slot defenders in the NFL, and can get the job done in coverage and also while blitzing and against the run. But he'll have his hands full on Sunday covering the 6-foot-2, 203-pound Boyd, who has developed into Cincinnati's top pass target the past couple seasons with A.J. Green dealing with various injuries. The former second-round pick has 32 receptions for 362 yards and a touchdown this season, and his 81.9 PFF receiving grade ranks sixth among qualifying players at his position to this point of the year. Moore II will have to bring his A-game, as one can imagine Burrow, if pressured, will be looking Boyd's way often throughout Sunday's contest. PROJECTED WEATHER (Retractable roof stadium) PM showers, 50-percent chance of precipitation, temperature in the low- to mid-60sF, wind from the SSW at 12 mph. REFEREE ASSIGNMENT Head referee: Land Clark (3 years). Click here to see all referee assignments for Week 6. BETTING LINE Favorite: Colts (-7.5) Over/Under: 46.5 REGULAR SEASON LEADERS
Passing - QB Philip Rivers (1,227 yards) Rushing - RB Jonathan Taylor (307 yards) Receiving - WR T.Y. Hilton (231 yards) Touchdowns - RB Jonathan Taylor (3) Tackles - LB Anthony Walker (32) Sacks - Justin Houston (3.5) Interceptions - CB T.J. Carrie, CB Xavier Rhodes (2 each)
Passing - QB Joe Burrow (1,304 yards) Rushing - RB Joe Mixon (374 yards) Receiving - WR Tyler Boyd (362 yards) Touchdowns - RB Joe Mixon (3) Tackles - S Jessie Bates III (39) Sacks - DE Carl Lawson (3.5) Interceptions - LB Logan Wilson (2) COMPARING 2020 STATS
Total offense - 23rd (349.8 YPG) Scoring - 17th (25.2 PPG) Passing offense - 18th (244.0 YPG) Sack percentage allowed - 3rd (3.16) Rushing offense - 20th (105.8 YPG) Third down offense - 27th (34.92 percent) Red zone offense - 29th (42.11 percent) Total defense - 1st (266.0 YPG) Scoring defense - 2nd (17.6 PPG) Passing defense - 1st (179.6 YPG) Sacks - Tied-15th (11) Rushing defense - 3rd (86.4 YPG) Third down defense - 10th (38.71 percent) Red zone defense - Tied-10th (58.33 percent) Time of possession - 8th (31:5636) Turnover differential - 6th (+4)
Total offense - 26th (332.4 YPG) Scoring - 29th (20.4 PPG) Passing offense - 22nd (229.8 YPG) Sack percentage allowed - 31st (10.63) Rushing offense - 23rd (102.6 YPG) Third down offense - Tied-29th (33.33 percent) Red zone offense - 30th (35.71 percent) Total defense - 23rd (387.6 YPG) Scoring defense - 17th (25.2 PPG) Passing defense - 9th (228.6 YPG) Sacks - Tied-21st (9) Rushing defense - 29th (159.0 YPG) Third down defense - 16th (42.86 percent) Red zone defense - Tied-13th (58.82 percent) Time of possession - 9th (31:40) Turnover differential - Tied-20th (-2) NOTES AND QUOTES With one interception returned for a touchdown, cornerbacks T.J. Carrie and Xavier Rhodes will tie numerous players for the second-most interceptions returned for a touchdown (two) in single-season franchise history. With one touchdown, tight end Jack Doyle will pass Ken Dilger (18) and tie Tom Mitchell (19) and Dwayne Allen (19) for the fourth-most total touchdowns by a tight end in team history. With at least one reception, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will pass Marshall Faulk (77) for the sixth-longest streak of consecutive games with a reception in franchise history. With one touchdown, Hilton will pass Dallas Clark (46) for the 11th-most total touchdowns in team history. With one receiving touchdown, Hilton will tie Dallas Clark (46) for the sixth-most receiving touchdowns in team history. With one game with 10+ receptions, Hilton will pass Don McCauley, Lydell Mitchell, Joe Washington, Anthony Johnson and Dallas Clark, all with three, for the third-most games with 10+ receptions in team history. With three receptions, running back Nyheim Hines will pass Joe Washington (127) for the third-most receptions by a Colts running back in their first three seasons in the NFL. He would also pass Washington for the 10thmost receptions by a Colts player in their first three seasons. With one safety, defensive end Justin Houston will tie Ted Hendricks, Doug English and Jared Allen (four) for the most safeties in NFL history. With one game with 400+ passing yards, quarterback Philip Rivers will tie Ben Roethlisberger (12) for the fourth-most games with 400+ passing yards in NFL history. With one game started, Rivers will pass Bruce Matthews (229) for the second-longest streak of consecutive regular season games started by a player since 1970. "You guys know how I feel about quarterback play. The quarterback gets too much credit, too much blame. That doesn't mean the quarterback has some games that aren't better than others and some games aren't worse than others. That's for each of us to weigh as we see it. We weigh it internally. We look at all the plays. The ones that he made, he did make a number of good plays in the game. Obviously, he made some mistakes. We all made mistakes - coaches and players in every phase. The quarterback is just going to always get more blame and more credit than he deserves, but he is still held accountable internally for everything that he does just like every other player is. The quarterback is no different than anybody else." - Colts head coach Frank Reich, asked about his evaluation of quarterback Philip Rivers' performance in last week's loss to the Cleveland Browns. "I think when I was younger - because I am kind of an intense person - I would get more heated than I do now. I believe that comes with experience and I think that as group you understand that there are going to be some plays made by the offense and you've just got to hang in there and persevere - and the guys did that. They stuck together. The message was at halftime was, 'Hey guys, they made a couple plays on some 50-50 balls. Up in the air we have to do a better job with timing, space and making those plays. We'll do that and just hang in there and just keep playing. Let's just play our defense better. Let's pay attention to detail, focus on our assignments and play them physical and violent. Then good things will happen.' Then we just stayed at it, stayed together as a group and we thought we played better in the second half." - Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, on sticking to the gameplan last Sunday vs. the Browns after Cleveland had so many unlikely circus-like catches in the first half. "There were definitely some things that in the run game, I saw us take steps. I thought Jonathan Taylor played his best game of the year also last week. Like I said, some of these zone-run schemes that we had on Sunday were really effective. Just like every position, I think we're just all continuing to get better. The offensive line is no exception. They didn't have the preseason either, and they are just continuing to get better, play the games and continue to get better. I think they are definitely on the rise and playing a little bit better each week. I'm not concerned about their play." - Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, on his level of concern with Indy's run blocking so far this season. "Everybody is different. You don't know until you actually go against that guy. Some of these guys come in the game and they're just built different so you can't base it off it they're a rookie or not. Some guys are ready for the task and some guys aren't. I think that's something we will see on Sunday, but by watching the game it's hard to say. From the situations he's been in and the games I've watched so far, I think he is a tough guy. It's hard to rattle that guy. He takes a lot of big hits and he stays in that pocket and continues to make good passes. So, I think he is a tough quarterback." - Colts defensive end Justin Houston, on whether a defender can get into a rookie quarterback's head, like Cincinnati's Joe Burrow, with some early pressure. "I think it meant a lot for the team. I think it provided a little spark that we needed coming out of the half. When Coach Bubba (Ventrone) and Frank (Ross) gave the call, we broke it down on 'house call on three' and I had all the confidence in the world when he made that call - we dialed it up a lot in practice and executed a lot in practice, so we knew. Everybody just had to do their job and a lot of people made key blocks and we got into the end zone." - Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers, on what it meant to score his first return touchdown, a 101-yard kickoff return play last Sunday against the Browns. 50/50 RAFFLE The Indianapolis Colts Foundation's 50/50 Raffle will be ACTIVE for the Colts vs. Bengals game on Oct. 18th. During the 2020 season, all Colts games including the 50/50 Raffle will be cashless. Debit cards are the only form of payment that will be accepted to purchase a 50/50 Raffle ticket. Reverse ATM machines are available for fans who need to exchange their cash for pre-paid debit cards. These machines are located outside of sections 116 and 153. For more information on the Indianapolis Colts Foundation's 50/50 Raffle, visit www.colts.com/5050. CATCH BEFORE THE GAME Mo Alie-Cox, Chaz Green Ruled Out Sunday Against The Bengals; Darius Leonard Doubtful; Four Questionable Update From The Indianapolis Colts Regarding COVID-19 Testing 2020 Colts Rookie Watch: Week 6 Colts Thursday Notebook: Darius Leonard Feels 'Very Close' To Return; Julian Blackmon, Anthony Castonzo Back To Full Participation Colts Wednesday Notebook: Anthony Castonzo Returns To Practice As Colts Begin Bengals Prep Nick Sirianni On Improved Offensive Line Play, T.Y. Hilton's Production Matt Eberflus On Second-Half Turnaround Against Browns, Containing Mobile QBs, Defending Bengals' Joe Burrow How to Watch Bengals @ Colts Colts Release Week 6 Unofficial Depth Chart For Bengals Matchup Colts To Monitor Injuries To Mo Alie-Cox, Justin Houston Frank Reich On Starter At Quarterback: 'Philip Is Our Quarterback' Five Things Learned: Colts-Browns (2020, Week 5)