These squads last faced off in 2020, with the Colts coming out on top 31-27 as Philip Rivers outdueled then-rookie Joe Burrow in Week 6. Neither quarterback who started that matchup will be present for this one, as Rivers retired at the end of that season and Burrow is out for the rest of this season. The Colts have an opportunity to pull even with the Jaguars in the AFC South as Trevor Lawrence is on the mend with a high-ankle sprain. Meanwhile, the Bengals need to win this game to keep pace in the Wild Card chase.
The Colts, who had rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson to shoulder surgery in October, have remained resilient on their current four-game winning streak. Gardner Minshew has been a large reason why the Colts find themselves in the heat of the playoff chase, with performances like last week’s come-from-behind overtime win against the Titans, where he went 26-for-42 with 312 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Pittman Jr. should continue to be a major factor much like last week, where he caught one of Minshew’s passes for the game-winner in overtime. Pittman needs to record 111 yards to have his second 1,000-yard receiving season in three years.
Jake Browning had a career night for the Bengals on Monday with 354 yards and two total touchdowns. If he repeats this performance on Sunday, he can join Chad Pennington as the only other quarterback to have begun his career with a completion percentage of 70 percent (Browning’s is currently 75.6 percent) and a passer rating of 95 (Browning’s passer rating is 107.3) in his first three starts. Pennington, who had to wait until 2002 to make his first starts, led the Jets to the playoffs that season, as Browning looks to do here with the Bengals.
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Date: Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023
Start time: 12:00 p.m. CT
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Stadium: Paycor Stadium
TV Info: CBS, NFL+, Sunday Ticket
Odds courtesy of DraftKings.
Point Spread: CIN +1 (-110), IND -1 (-110)
Moneyline: IND (-108), IND (-112)
Over/Under: O/U 44 (-110)
A very close matchup awaits. The Colts enter as one-point favorites.
What To Watch For
Shane Steichen should be commended for having turned the Colts around in under one season, even in the face of losing his rookie signal-caller to season-ending surgery. A win in this game and an eventual playoff berth would provide an excellent case for Steichen to take home Coach of the Year honors in February. An equally herculean task awaits Zac Taylor if he wants to take the Bengals back to the playoffs without Burrow, and although Browning proved what he could do in primetime against the Jaguars, the real test for Browning and the Bengals begins now.
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