INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts will look for their longest winning streak since the 2009 season on Sunday afternoon.
A pair of division leaders will meet at Lucas Oil Stadium when the Colts (4-2) tangle with the Bengals (3-1-1).
What should fans be looking for when the Colts welcome the Bengals to Lucas Oil on Sunday?
1. Holding Home Turf
-Sunday's contest marks the last home game for the Colts until November 16. The Colts will then have four home games in five weeks following a Week 10 bye. In the next two home games, the Colts will get AFC division leaders Cincinnati and New England at home, providing a chance to show the rest of the conference that the Colts are a serious contender come January.
2. Make The Bengals One Dimensional
-It's pretty impressive the Bengals rank second in the NFL right now at 6.3 yards per play considering all the pass catching weapons they've missed. Going into a road environment this weekend, it's clear the Bengals are going to want to establish the run. If the Colts can get an early lead, and force Andy Dalton to throw it 30-35 times a game, that would be beneficial to the Indianapolis defense.
3. Another Quick Start
-In two of the last three weeks, the Colts have gotten off to torrid starts thanks to some special teams tricks. A quick start on Sunday would fall right in line with the Bengals having to abandon any focus on establishing the run. The Colts currently lead the league in first quarter scoring by outscoring their opponents 58-6.
4. Neutralizing Giovani Bernard
-Bernard is one of the most dynamic, young backs in the NFL. His 112 yards per game from scrimmage ranks fourth in the league. The Panthers saw first hand on Sunday what Bernard can do. Carolina held the dual-threat back to 17 carries for 48 yards but Bernard broke an 89-yarder on a play that shouldn't have gone for more than 10 yards.
5. More Offensive Efficiency
-Which Bengals defense shows up might be the most important factor to watch on Sunday. In the first three games of 2014, the Bengals gave up an average of 11 points per game. The last two weeks though, the unit has given up 77 points in regulation. The Colts offense continues to lead the league in multiple categories but being efficient in the red zone will be key against a defense that has been one of the league's best in the past few years.
6. Getting To Andy Dalton
-We've seen a lot of Robert Mathis' sack dances the past few weeks with the Colts pass rush piling up 16 sacks in the last four games. Andy Dalton has been sacked just twice in 151 pass attempts this season. Baltimore's quarterback Joe Flacco came into a meeting against the Colts with a similar sack percentage and the Indianapolis defense got to him four times in 38 pass attempts.
7. Maintaining Momentum
-A victory on Sunday would give the Colts their first five-game winning streak since the 2009 season. Right now, the Colts sit at 4-2 with three games remaining until the bye week. If the Colts can string together a few more wins, questions on securing one of the top seeds in the AFC ill start to build in Indianapolis.