INDIANAPOLIS – There was no “Victory Monday” for the Colts as the players did not have the day off from preparation for the Bengals. Today’s news looks at Sunday’s playoff implications, the stout performance defensively and the Bengals depth issues along their offensive line.
Take a look below at the top pieces from Tuesday, December 3rd.
Colts ready for playoff environment Sunday
By: Stephen Holder, Indy Star
A pair of 8-4 teams will meet in Cincinnati on Sunday with more playoff implications on the line for both squads.
Everything is still mathematically possible for Indianapolis, including the AFC's top seed. But the Bengals, also 8-4, can say the same thing. Want to know what the NFL playoffs feel like? Watch Sunday's game.
"They're fighting for a playoff spot just like we are and we want to control our own destiny," running back
Donald Brownsaid. "It's going to be a great game. Two playoff-type-caliber teams and it's going to be a playoff-type environment."
The Colts, despite their up-and-down nature of late, sit in a comfortable position. They will clinch their first division title since 2010 with their next win or a Tennessee loss. If the playoffs started today, the Colts would own the No. 3 seed and host the Baltimore Ravens in the wildcard round.
That seems preferable to where the Bengals currently sit. Presently the No. 4 seed, the Bengals would host the 9-3 Chiefs, the same team that jumped out to a 9-0 record this season.
And if the Colts and Bengals finish in a tie, the first tiebreaker would be ... head-to-head matchups. You know, like the one on tap Sunday against a solid club.
"They're a damn good football team," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "Offense, defense, special teams. (Coach) Marvin (Lewis) has done a great job. That's a good football team."
Defense has to carry Colts rest of season
By: Mike Wells, ESPN.com
Wells looks at the Colts defense and how the unit put together its best performance in over a month.
What happened defensively Sunday could be looked at as surprising and motivating considering where they were before.
The Colts hadn’t intercepted a pass in four games and they had given up at least 410 yards in four of the past seven games.
“In a sense it was frustrating, but we weren’t hanging our heads and getting down on ourselves,”
LaRon Landrysaid. “We just had to have a pep talk and get on the same page. It was all about finishing, paying attention to detail the whole week and going out and executing.
“That was the biggest thing to finish because we have all the talent and ability, but we weren’t putting it all together as a team effort.”
The defense still isn’t perfect. The unit gave up 162 yards rushing to the Titans. That was the most they had given up since the Seattle Seahawks ran for 218 yards against them in Week 5. The Colts only allowed the Titans inside their 20-yard line twice.
“We’ve been taking it as a challenge, it’s not just one week,” said cornerback
Cassius Vaughn, who had two interceptions Sunday. “We’ve wanted to play better. It’s not like we wanted to play bad so the media can talk bad about us. We put it together [Sunday].”
Bengals’ O-line to have its depth tested
By: Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer
In the Bengals victory on Sunday, left guard Clint Boling tore his ACL in the first quarter.
After Boling’s injury, which happened during the first quarter of the Bengals 17-10 victory over the Chargers, the offensive line was made up of Andre Smith and Anthony Collins at the tackles, Andrew Whitworth and Mike Pollak at guard and Cook at center. That combination helped produce one of the best run-blocking games of the season as BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard combined to average 4.4 yards per carry.
With Whitworth at left guard, the Bengals ran plenty of power O. On the first touchdown drive, which ended in a four-yard run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Bengals ran it six of 10 plays and had 47 yards.
They went back with heavy doses of it again in the fourth quarter as the Bengals were able to run out the clock with eight straight run plays, including converting a pair of third downs.
“Great guards are hard to find, obviously great left tackles are hard to find but luckily we have three tackles in here than can play NFL football with Collins, Smith and Whit,” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. “And with Whit’s versatility and unselfishness, we can play him anywhere and be pretty good.”
Whether Whitworth remains at guard will be one of the more interesting storylines of the week. When asked what elements would factor into that decision, Lewis said – “Me not talking about it. I guess that line of questioning is over.”
Another option is to keep Whitworth at left tackle and move Pollak to left guard when Kevin Zeitler returns. Zeitler has missed the past two games due to a foot injury but Pollak has done a solid job in his place.