As many Indianapolis Colts fans look forward to the Wild Card match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals, they are fondly remembering the shutout the Colts handed the Bengals in week 7. At this point in the season, it may be a more closely matched contest than before.
Injuries have taken their toll on the Colts in the latter half of the season. The O-Line has been riddled with injuries, Ahmad Bradshaw went on injured reserve with a broken leg, and Reggie Wayne has been limited with torn triceps. And although it’s not injury related, Trent Richardson has underwhelmed again this season.
While these points may prove problematic, it does not mean it will cost them the game. As long as focus is maintained they have a good chance of advancing to the divisional round.
First (and foremost): The Colts’ defense must find a way contain Jeremy Hill, so that he becomes a non-factor. The reason I make this point first is because dangerous backs have plagued the Colts defense. Anybody remember a guy named LeGarrette Blount?
I do, because he thrashed the Colts defense last year in the divisional round for 166 yards and 4 TDs. Stopping the run will make the Bengal offense rely on a passing game, that won’t nearly as effective without Andy Dalton’s “security blanket” AKA A.J. Green. If they can accomplish that, then all they need to do is apply pressure to Dalton and squeeeeeeze.
Second: The Colts absolutely need Boom Herron to step up and offer a spark for the run game and passing game. Herron has shown he has the ability, but now he needs to own the position. T-Rich isn’t going to get it done on his own – he’s proven that over the last two seasons.
Herron has shown he has better vision at the point of attack, and that he is a viable safety valve in the passing game when coverage has swallowed up down-field possibilities. Not to mention that having a rushing attack will take away the one-dimensional nature of the offense.
Third: The offensive line must stay focused, and not give up stupid holding and false start penalties. They also need to provide consistent pass coverage so Andrew Luck isn’t taking hits all day or forcing bad passes.
Each of those situations can lead to costly fumbles and interceptions, which can be drastic momentum and game changers. Also, opening up running lanes will help with that second point I made above about the running game becoming a factor.
Fourth: The receiver corps must help take the pressure off T.Y. Hilton. With Reggie Wayne being hampered with torn triceps, Hilton is getting blanketed in coverage. Donte Moncrief has shown great promise, and Hakeem Nicks has the ability.
Both of these guys need to” pull their socks up”, “muck in”, “put on their big boy pants”, and catch the damn ball when it’s thrown to them.
The tight ends need to make big plays also. The Colts have one of the most talented tight end tandems in the game with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Add Jack Doyle into the mix to give these boys a breather when needed and they can dominate those pesky linebacker and safety match ups.
This group of tight ends accounts for 18 of Luck’s 40 TDs.
Not being an analyst (as I’m sure many readers have noticed), I don’t claim to have all the answers for a Colts win over Cincinnati. But as a Colts fan, I am willing to offer up my point of view about what areas the Colts need to be address to afford them a chance at victory.