TV Schedule: Sunday, Dec. 8, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium
Weather: High 35, Low 32
Line: Cincinnati (-5.5)
Sitting in first place in the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals are finally living up to the hype they were given prior to the 2013 season. While they aren’t setting the world on fire with their wins, they are playing like any top team should. Andy Dalton has increased his level of play, leading the 11th-ranked passing offense with 3,144 yards and 22 touchdowns after a somewhat slow start to the year. Wide receiver A.J. Green leads the receiving corps, as he should, with 72 catches for 1,103 yards and seven touchdowns while the next closest wide receiver, Marvin Jones, has just 458 yards receiving. Giovani Bernard has been one of the best rookies in the league this season, rushing for 521 yards and four touchdowns on 4.4 yards per carry.
The Indianapolis Colts are a tough team to figure out as they are constantly beating top teams, but playing down to the level of lesser opponents. While they are 8-4 on the year and in first place in the AFC South, they still have a lot to prove as a playoff-caliber team. Andrew Luck is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and he has been brought in by Colts fans and treated like Peyton Manning was. Luck has passed for 2,793 yards and 15 touchdowns on the year, connecting with T.Y. Hilton more than anyone else after Reggie Wayne‘s knee injury. Hilton has been solid since becoming the top target, catching 56 passes for 791 yards and five touchdowns. Since Trent Richardson is struggling mightily, Donald Brown has carried the load, rushing for 378 yards and four touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry.
Defensively, the Colts have not been all that impressive this season. Indianapolis ranks 22nd in total yards allowed and 28th in rushing yards allowed per game while ranking 17th in passing yards allowed and 12th in points allowed. Cincinnati has been one of the best and most consistent units in the league, ranking in the top-10 in points allowed, total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed and passing yards allowed per game.
PREDICTION: Colts 24, Bengals 31
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.