Oct 9, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) scores a touchdown in the first quarter against Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing (56) at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Remember how the Cincinnati Bengals run defense was supposed to get better against the Carolina Panthers last week, but didn’t, not really? Well, Indianapolis Colts running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson could be the next beneficiaries of the Bengals’ porous run D when the two teams meet at Lucas Oil Stadium this week.
After a week of ankle-twisting allegations and a related fine from the NFL, linebacker Vontaze Burfict will be watched closely by the Indy coaching staff and the referees, and he won’t get the benefit of the doubt on any close calls with regard to penalties. It’s going to be hard for him to make the kind of impact that the Bengals need in order to stop the Colts’ ground game cold.
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To make matters worse, fellow linebackers Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder) both missed practices during the week, including on Thursday. There is a decent chance that Cincinnati will be without one or both for the game in Indianapolis.
The Colts’ offense, of course, is built around quarterback Andrew Luck and his receivers, but their middle-of-the-pack rushing game is good enough to keep defenses off-balance. With Cincy weak and hurting in their run-stopping ability, expect Luck to poke at that hole early and often to see if anything develops. Richardson or, more likely, Bradshaw may finally have a breakout day on the ground.
If you’re looking for a fantasy star on the Bengals’ side of the ball, you can’t ignore Giovani Bernard, whose versatility is even more important now that Marvin Jones is gone for the season and A.J. Green is expected to miss the Sunday tilt.
This game at LOS promises plenty of fantasy firepower, but unfortunately for the Bengals, the Colts have a bigger cannon.