Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts Preview
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
When: Thursday, August 31, 2017, 7:00 PM ET
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Betting on the Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)
Cincinnati’s preparations for the new NFL season took a huge hit on Sunday with the news that Vontaze Burfict is facing a five-game suspension for an illegal hit against Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman. The controversial linebacker lowered his shoulder to upend Sherman, a defenseless player running a crossing route. That’s a crippling blow for the Bengals’ defense considering Burfict was playing some excellent football this preseason. He was superb in Cincinnati’s 23-17 loss to Washington last Sunday, even intercepting Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins’ pass and returning it for a 62-yard touchdown.
If the suspension holds, Burfict would miss games against the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills. That’s gut-wrenching for head coach Marvin Lewis as the Bengals were already firing on all cylinders in the defensive end. The Bengals held the Redskins starters to four three-and-outs on Sunday. Lewis will need to act fast to find a replacement for his star linebacker.
So who are his options for the game against Indianapolis? If Lewis is looking for a reliable veteran to take over, Vincent Rey is the obvious choice. He has accumulated 37 games of starting experience throughout his seven-year career with Cincinnati. Rey has started at least half of the games or more in each of the last three seasons, many of which have come due to Burfict being injured or suspended. Another option for Lewis is rookie Carl Lawson. He has impressed in his limited time this preseason, recording two tackles, a tackle for a loss, and a sack.
Betting on the Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
Andrew Luck’s status for the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams has not been determined publicly at least, but if he does miss the game, Scott Tolzien’s performance against Pittsburgh should give Indianapolis fans a little more optimism. Tolzien completed 7-of-10 passes for 123 yards with an interception in the Colts’ 19-15 win over the Steelers last Saturday. That’s quite a turnaround for Tolzien who entered Saturday’s preseason contest with just 94 yards passing.
Tolzien wasn’t the only quarterback to impress for the Colts in that ballgame. Stephen Morris continued his strong preseason, completing 12-of-16 passes for 143 yards in the win against Pittsburgh. Morris led the Colts to a touchdown for the third consecutive game as calls to make him the starting QB continue to rise (just in case Luck is still out). Morris has been the Colts’ most consistent quarterback this preseason, going 36-of-51 for 348 yards and a touchdown in three games. He’s in line to get the start against the Bengals as none of the Colts’ key players are expected to play in the preseason finale against Cincinnati on Thursday.
Indianapolis (-2.5) wins, 23-20.
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