Back in September no one that knew anything about football picked the Bengals to do more than scratch the litter in their cat box. Low and behold, the managed to ride Cedric Benson and a talented defense to become the division champs. They even managed to ice it a week early allowing them to rest a lot of their players in the final week of the season (a total spanking by the team that ejected them from the playoffs).
The only question mark for the Colts at that time was how Jim Caldwell would manage to put his stamp on Tony Dungy’s team. The offensive machine that is Peyton Manning and crew were in good shape and the defense was not too shabby either. Anything short of a run at the playoffs and the bug game itself would be a disappointment for them.
Bengal players, fans, and coached will be left wondering whether or not they lost their rhythm by sitting guys out the last week. In their case they were not looking too great prior to that game and were feeling the hurt that comes from too many injuries. Cincinnati looked flat with only a week off; Indianapolis has essentially had three weeks off. If any team would be expected to be flat and out of sync it would be the Colts.
Playing a tough Baltimore defense the Colts can not afford to work their way into playing shape this Sunday. The Ravens are clicking on all cylinders and are riding high after pounding the Patriots last weekend. It would be a perfect segue way into the championship for them to take down the offensive juggernaut that the Colts are. It took a hell of a 4th quarter comeback for the Colts to beat them during the season, and that’s when they were in rhythm.
A loss this Sunday and the decision to pull the starters against the Jets in Week 16 will rear its ugly head again. The week prior, against the Jaguars the Cots were clicking on all cylinders. Since then they have been horrible. Now true, they have not played the starters since Week 15 which explains there lackluster play.
The Bengals sat guys for one week and are out now. The Colts have sat guys for three. Indy is much better than the Bengals, but to play good you actually have to be playing. Bottom line is that these guys have not. Good thing they have the MVP of the NFL on the team ready to light a fire; they’ll need it.