The Bengals finishing their preseason against the Colts is an annual affair, but they’ve never met immediately afterwards in the regular season opener. That’s exactly what will happen in the next two weeks. Both teams will reset to (0-0) on September 9 when the Bengals travel to Indianapolis to play in Week 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
As for this final preseason game game, we shouldn’t see many if any of the starters. It is the last chance for the players trying to earn spots on the roster to show their talents.
Here is everything you need to know for when the Bengals take on the Colts:
Game: Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) vs Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
Date/Time: Aug. 30th, 2018 at 7 p.m. EST
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Series Leader: Colts, 19-11 (regular season and playoffs)
Streak: The Bengals have won three of the last five.
Coaches vs. Opponent: Marvin Lewis: 3-6. Frank Reich: 0-0
TV Broadcast: The game will air on the Bengals Preseason TV Network, led by Cincinnati flagship station WKRC-TV (CBS Channel 12). Broadcasters are Mike Watts (play-by-play), Anthony Munoz (analyst) and Mike Valpredo (sideline reporter). The network also includes WKEF-TV (ABC Ch. 22) in Dayton, WSYXTV (ABC Ch. 6) in Columbus, WLIO-TV (FOX Ch. 8.2) in Lima, WDKY-TV FOX Ch. 56) in Lexington, Ky. and WDRB-TV (FOX Ch. 41) in Louisville, Ky.
Radio Broadcast: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).
SB Nation Colts site: Stampede Blue
Weather: Mid 70’s, mostly cloudy [NFL weather]
Odds: Bengals, -1.5 [Odds Shark]
The Bengals first team had five sacks last week as they ruined Josh Allen’s shot to show his stuff with the first team.
Andy Dalton threw two touchdowns (one to John Ross and another to A.J Green) while completing nearly 69% of his passes.
Joe Mixon and Giovanni Bernard struggled behind the first-team offensive line, rushing for only 10 yards on 10 carries.
Tyler Eifert also played his first snaps of the preseason last week while catching his first pass as well during his limited appearance.
Mason Schreck caught three passes for 58 yards as he’s still most definitely on the roster bubble.
The Bengals also failed to create a turnover. Cincinnati’s only turnover was a pass that got tipped up by Auden Tate.
For this final preseason game, where we have Cincinnati playing against the Indianapolis Colts — a team they just so happen to play to open the regular season.
Let’s see who you should keep an eye on in this matchup.
* = On The Bubble; ** = Returning From Injury; *** = Bigger Role
LB Hardy Nickerson
The linebacker spot for Cincinnati is yet again a space in need of clear answers. They have numerous possible ones, but the depth is quite unproven. The issues are further exacerbated by the fact that the leader of the unit (Vontaze Burfict) will be missing four games due to suspension to start the year.
With Burfict out of commission, the entire lineup at the position is thrown into chaos. Past Burfict, there are a few roster locks at this point: offseason acquisition Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans, and 2018 third-round selection Malik Jefferson. Vincent Rey is also probably there as well, leaving probably just enough room for one more linebacker as we enter the year.
There’s plenty of competition for that roster spot, with Nickerson and Brandon Bell the main components of that battle. Each offers a decent backup option at linebacker for Cincinnati: Nickerson uses his high energy to make plays, while Bell brings a decisive level of physicality to the table. Both can step in decently when called upon, and contribute on special teams if not necessarily needed for the defensive snaps in a given contest.Last season, Nickerson was given the edge over Bell in the same competition at this position, picking up 18 tackles and a pass knockdown in 158 snaps while being active for 14 regular season games.
Bell only came on once injuries decimated the position at the end of the year, but he played a key role as Cincinnati ended the season with victories over Detroit and Baltimore which may have kept both teams out of the playoffs (Bell’s 2017 stats: 10 tackles across 36 snaps while being active for three games).
This preseason, the battle for a roster spot is perhaps even closer. Bell has taken 82 snaps in three preseason games while Nickerson has been out there for 79, with both having at least 22 snaps each game and one contest with 30+. Between the two, there are five efforts out of six with at least four tackles. Each has a stat which leans in their favor: Nickerson has an advantage in tackles (15 to 10), while Bell has garnered a pass knockdown and picked off a pass.In the short term, the picture is crystal clear regarding what has been a blurred image.
When the Indianapolis Colts close their preseason against the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday evening at Paul Brown Stadium, Joe Haeg is expected to start at right tackle and rookie Braden Smith at right guard. In all likelihood, Le’Raven Clark remains at left tackle while Anthony Castonzo deals with an injury to his right hamstring.
Castonzo, who has missed only seven of a possible 118 games, steadfastly predicted he’ll be in the starting lineup Sept. 9 when the Colts open the season against the Bengals.
The preseason has been one audition after another at right tackle: J’Marcus Webb was the starter at Seattle, followed by Smith against Baltimore and Austin Howard against San Francisco. Howard’s tryout lasted three plays. He gave up a third-down sack and was replaced by Webb.
Now, it’s Haeg. It’s anybody’s guess – including the Colts – if he’ll be there Sept. 9.
“I think we’re getting close to a final decision,’’ coach Frank Reich said Tuesday. “After that game, we’ll be ready to roll.’’
We’ve considered Haeg the favorite to secure the position, especially after Denzelle Good suffered an injury to his left knee Saturday evening against the 49ers. He has emerged as the line’s most versatile player since being selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft.