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NFL Week 1 Bengals at Colts game preview: Luck or skill?

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After two years of disappointment and an offseason full of adjustments Womens Ryan Glasgow Jersey , the Cincinnati Bengals are take the field for real on Sunday, after what seems like an eternity. And, in a twist only Who Dey Nation can relate to, the team is playing the Indianapolis Colts for the second time in as many weeks.With such a quick rematch comes many questions. For the Bengals, it’s about just how much they’ve improved this offseason. They have made major strides to bolster both their roster and their coaching staff. The turnover in both departments may have not moved the needle very much from a national perspective, but they have a very different look as they look to take the field on Sunday. Quarterback Andy Dalton has to be one of the happiest players on the Bengals’ roster at the moment. The team has re-committed to surrounding him with talent on the unit in which he is in charge. Cincinnati made two major moves to bolster their offensive line, with four new starters up front than that of just a year ago. Dalton is also getting a healthy Tyler Eifert and John Ross back to throw to, and we know what kind of quarterback No. 14 can be with a loaded arsenal. 2015, anyone?Still, both the Bengals and the Colts have quite a few similarities, especially in those aforementioned questions, as they clash once again in Week 1. Both offensive lines have been in a state of upheaval, new coaches litter both staffs and questions about the veterans they have kept are plentiful. The main players under the microscope this week are definitely the quarterbacks. Dalton continues to have his share of critics and disbelievers, while Andrew Luck is attempting to resurrect his career after more than a year on the sidelines with a shoulder injury. However, a number of other “ancillary players” are also sharing center stage. Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson are all still allowing the ink to dry for their respective recent deals, with Johnson’s situation being truly an interesting one. Carl Lawson, Sam Hubbard and Jordan Willis will help to round out the pass-rushing crew for the Bengals as the unit’s young guns of the gruop. Cincinnati’s defense was ninth in the NFL preseason in quarterback sacks, which was one of the major reasons for a near-perfect record this August. It’s a trend they hope to continue with Luck, who may be skittish—both because of his injury and a patchwork offensive line. However, one of the other similarities we mentioned before is in defending the pass. Yes, we can’t take preseason statistics as scripture, but a No. 28 ranking in that category this summer has to be worrisome to the Bengals. And, while the team has seemingly cleaned up many issues that plagued them last year, the covering of tight ends by the back seven defenders seems to be a prevailing ailment. Indianapolis employs two capable players at the position in Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron. Oh, and Doyle had quite the stat line against the Bengals last year with 12 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown reception. Should we let bygones be bygones, though?I’ve wavered back-and-forth on the outcome of this game. When it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals, it’s easy to be a stone-cold cynic and those old feelings from following this franchise for 30 years are easy to come by. In that vein, it’s becomes second-nature to concoct a visualization of Luck coming back from injury and torturing the Bengals as he did a few years earlier in the 2014 Wild Card round. The NFL loves a good story line, and few Week 1 narratives would have the gravitas of Luck coming back to an NFL game after being away for over a year and mopping the floor with an AFC contemporary. Season-openers haven’t really been kind to Lewis and the Bengals over the past 15 years. The embattled head coach has a 7-8 record on opening weekend, with five of those eight losses being either complete blowouts (2017 and 2012 against the Ravens Womens Ryan Glasgow Jersey , for instance), and others being complete Bengals-like heart-breakers (2009 at home against Denver). One thing the Bengals fan base doesn’t employ is short-term memory. These losses and the recent playoff failures continue to stick in the team’s faithful like a bunch of irritated splinters. However, it’s finally time to start fresh for all of us in Bengaldom. Long gone is the 2015 Wild Card disaster, and though some of the major figureheads from that debacle remain, things have a different feel this season. After an offseason filled with lowered expectations for the club, the tide has begun to change a bit. Sure, fan optimism is high after a nearly-undefeated preseason, but we also have CBS Sports’ John Breech proclaiming the Bengals a playoff winner, as well as Bleacher Report calling them a “sleeper team” recently (the Colts are on the list as well), so maybe we aren’t having as much tunnel vision as originally thought. Look, Luck is a former No. 1 overall pick and he’s still a massively-skilled player. There’s a debate as to if and how his style of play will change because of the shoulder injury from the end of 2016. Take these diametrically-opposing anonymous opinions from a recent column regarding Luck via Matt Miller of B/R:As for what the Colts believe at the moment with their prized signal-caller?In Week 1, for reasons ranging from rust to a seemingly-furious Bengals pass-rush, Luck will probably look like a guy in between these two reports. For these reasons, I think the Bengals squeak past the Colts, as they begin a potential trek towards redemption. Did we mention that 2018 is the 30-year anniversary of their last Super Bowl appearance?Nah—let’s not get crazy, yet.Bengals 27, Colts 23AC — My shoulder feels fine, FYI. When the NFL released the schedule back in April shortly before the draft, opinions were mixed on how the Cincinnati Bengals would fare in 2018. With the return of Marvin Lewis and the team coming off of two straight losing seasons, the talking heads had the team as a six-win club. But, after the draft and once folks started seeing this year’s team in practices, the national perception changed. Folks began believing this could be a competitive squad this year and their 5-3 start has proved them correct. Right after the schedule release, we made an early prediction of our own on how the Bengals’ season would go. For review, here are the results we had penciled in for the first half of the season:At Colts: WinRavens: WinAt Panthers: LossAt Falcons: LossDolphins: WinSteelers: WinAt Chiefs: LossBuccaneers: WinSo, while we were incorrect on the results in the Pittsburgh and Atlanta contests, our early guess on the 5-3 record before the midway bye rung true. Back in April, we guessed that the second half of the season would lead to a 4-4 record and, ultimately, a 9-7 finish where the team sniffed the postseason. So, now that we have a sample size of half of a regular season, are there changes? Are nine wins enough to get the Bengals to the postseason this year?There is an unfortunate caveat to these win-loss predictions: injuries. It would seem that Billy Price Womens Jordan Evans Jersey , Giovani Bernard, Tyler Kroft, John Ross and Nick Vigil should be returning to the lineup soon, which will be a nice boost for the team down the stretch. However, one of their best players, A.J. Green, is battling a toe/foot injury and his long-term status is a bit uncertain. Because of the recent prognosis of his not needing surgery, we’re going with the prevailing thought that Green won’t be available for the next two games.We discussed the possible outlook of the rest of 2018 on this week’s Orange and Black Insider podcast, and we figured we’d re-hash the discussion here as well. Week 10, Saints at Bengals: Unfortunately, the Teryl Austin effect has been a negative one on the Bengals’ defense. Since he took over for Paul Guenther, Austin’s defense is ranked dead-last in overall defense and passing defense, while ranking 26th against the run. While Drew Brees and Co. are more comfortable in a dome, this matchup doesn’t bode well for the Bengals next week. New Orleans boasts the 9th ranked passing offense and 17th rated rushing attack. This will either be a blowout, or New Orleans will come into Cincinnati a bit exhausted having spent a massive amount of effort and emotion in beating the Rams in Week 9. We’re sticking with a loss here, though. Result: LossWeek 11, Bengals at Ravens: This contest is one that is so topsy-turvy that it becomes hard to predict. Just as Pittsburgh is Cincinnati’s kryptonite, the Bengals often get the best of the Ravens. An idea of a different Bengals team emerged after they took care of a solid Baltimore squad on national television. Some of that luster has dissipated with losses to the Steelers and Chiefs, but Lewis does have a 19-12 record against his former employers. It’s possible the Bengals pull out a sweep this year, as the Ravens are even more Jekyll-and-Hyde than Cincinnati this year, but we’ll go with the series being split. We especially feel this way if Green, the perennial Raven-killer, is sidelined as it appears that that is going to be the case. Result: LossWeek 12, Browns at Bengals: This one will be interesting, as Cleveland has proven to be scrappier than their 2-5-1 record would indicate. They’ve fired Hue Jackson and Gregg Williams comes in as the interim head coach. Can he inspire a late-season turnaround to respectability?The Browns have also made a change at quarterback, as Baker Mayfield is now the unquestioned starter. The “Battle of Ohio” may be headed to a split this year, but I’m not so sure. In Williams’ debut as head coach, Cleveland got predictably stomped by Kansas City.Result: WinWeek 13 Broncos at Bengals: This matchup has had its tugs-of-war in recent years, but Case Keenum doesn’t seem to be the long-term answer at quarterback for Denver. The Broncos are 3-6 and don’t have a ton of signs of trending upward. One wild card in this matchup is the tandem of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The former has nine sacks this year, while Chubb is a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate with eight sacks of his own. Can the Bengals’ inconsistent offensive line rise up to the challenge? We think they will as Denver keeps finding ways to lose close games. Result: WinWeek 14, Bengals at Chargers: Under Lewis , the Bengals are actually 5-3 against the Chargers. Believe it or not, Cincinnati is actually 3-1 when traveling to the west coast to face the Chargers under their long-tenured head coach. Most look at this and automatically see a loss for Cincinnati, which is understandable given the Chargers’ 6-2 record. Los Angeles has a solid roster this season, but they do have weaknesses that can be exploited. Still, with the Bengals dealing with so many injuries and their defense underwhelming right now, the Chargers could start to tip the recent record scale back to being close to even. Result: LossWeek 15, Raiders at Bengals: Initially, this seemed like a really tough matchup on the schedule. Oakland made a needed change at head coach, and most thought that Jon Gruden would bring his quarterback whisperer skills to fix Derek Carr. Well, it’s been an absolute dumpster fire for the Raiders this year, starting 1-7 and being recently embarrassed on Thursday Night Football. Cincinnati should cruise to a comfortable win here without many problems. Result: WinWeek 16, Bengals at Browns: I really am tempted to give the Browns a win in the series this year, but I’m not as big of a believer in Mayfield as most folks seem to be. I still think they are a year away from truly being competitive in the division. Even so, we expect these two games will probably be frustrating for Bengals fans to watch, in terms of performance and them being close contests, even if they end up both being wins for Cincinnati. Result: WinWeek 17 Bengals at Steelers: Something tells me that this one will have some major implications going into January. Pittsburgh still has bragging rights over the Bengals after a last-second comeback win at Paul Brown Stadium, but they’ve shown major warts and have a pretty tough back half of the schedule (Ravens, Chargers, Patriots and Saints).Pittsburgh just secured a huge win over the Ravens in Baltimore, pushing them further down the playoff pecking order at 4-5, and stomped the Panthers on Thursday Night Football. If Cincinnati can get a win in Maryland of their own in Week 11, the Ravens’ postseason hopes will essentially be dead. Of Cincinnati’s eight meager wins against Pittsburgh in the Lewis era, six have inexplicably come at Heinz Field. I guess that plays a little into Cincinnati’s corner here, but common logic just doesn’t point to the Bengals pulling out a massive win against their bitter rivals to potentially put them into the playoffs, or give them better seeding.Result: LossEnd record: 9-7 — Wild Card berthIf you’re unable to join us live for here at Cincy Jungle or YouTube every episode, all Orange and Black Insider content is available here on CJ, as well as on our SoundCloud, Stitcher, through the Google Play Music app and YouTube channels, ART19 as well as on iTunes! You can tweet us @BengalsOBI or get in touch with us via email at Thanks for listening and go subscribe to our channels!

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