Colts & Bengals arrived to the final preseason game, it’s time to play the second & third stringers and make the final roster evaluations before cutting down to the opening-day number of 53 players.
What We Know About The Coaches
Marvin Lewis of Cincinnati is 27-25 in the preseason, 2-1 this year, after his Bengals beat Chicago, 21-10. Chuck Pagano of the Colts is 5-10 in the preseason, 1-2 this year, after his team beat the St. Louis Rams, 24-14. In a final preseason game, it’s all about player evaluation, so coaching records go out the window even more than they normally do as a preseason factor or betting component. You’re going to have to find something specific in order to recommend one coach over the other. Call this one even.
A.J. McCarron was given a long game in the Bengals’ third preseason outing, and he did well. He completed 12 of 17 passes and demonstrated basic command of the Cincinnati offense. He should get more time in this game to polish his skills.
Starter Andy Dalton was better for Cincinnati, completing all six of his passes and looking a lot sharper than he had a few days earlier against Tampa Bay. The Bengals’ offense was definitely cleaner than it had been before, and that should encourage coach Marvin Lewis.
The Colts got good outings out of their two quarterbacks in their win over the Rams. Andrew Luck was able to throw the ball down the field, gaining 161 passing yards. He did fumble once, but he has not thrown an interception all preseason long. Backup Matt Hasselbeck was strong as well, completing 10 of 14 passes and looking like a veteran quarterback who could step in and keep the team afloat if anything happens to Luck this season.
You should see a lot of McCarron and Hasselbeck in this game, since the final preseason game is usually a time when the starting quarterbacks rest in advance of opening day. Based on Hasselbeck’s strong improvement from one week to the next, the Colts probably deserve a small advantage here.
Team Depth & Rotations
The Bengals did not suffer any major injuries last week against the Bears. They’re in very good shape on this front. Dalton, for his part, suffered a sore neck last week, but that was and is the kind of injury that would not cause him to miss a game. He wasn’t going to play much if at all in this game, anyway.
The Colts should be without running back Josh Robinson (concussion), and defensive tackle Arthur Jones. Give a slight edge to the healthier Bengals.
Outlook & Pick
Interestingly enough, Marvin Lewis is 9-3 in the fourth week of the preseason. Meanwhile, the Colts haven’t shown much interest in preseason games under Pagano, going 5-10. That being the case, it looks like the Bengals should exert more effort in this spot, so good with them.
NFL Pick: Bengals -2.5 at 5Dimes