Bengals host Colts with both teams in AFC wild-card race


Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, CBS.

OPENING LINE: Bengals by 1 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Colts 8-4-0; Bengals 5-6-1.

SERIES RECORD: Colts lead 20-12.

LAST MEETING: Colts beat Bengals 31-27 on Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis.

LAST WEEK: Colts beat Titans 31-28 in OT; Bengals beat Jaguars 34-31 in OT.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Colts plus-2; Bengals plus-9.

COLTS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Michael Pittman Jr. has become Gardner Minshew’s favorite option over the past five weeks, catching 45 passes for 400 yards with two TDs. Pittman now needs 111 yards for the second 1,000-yard season of his four-year career and 13 receptions for his first 100-catch season. He could have another big day Sunday when he faces the league’s 27th ranked pass defense.

BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: Jake Browning had to step in when franchise quarterback Joe Burrow was lost for the season with a wrist injury. In just his second NFL start, the 27-year-old Browning finished 32 of 37 for 354 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 22 yards and another score. The passing yards and overall total of 491 yards for the Bengals were season highs.

KEY MATCHUP: QB Minshew threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts' overtime win against Tennessee last week. The Bengals defense is allowing about 270 passing yards per game.

KEY INJURIES: Colts: RB Jonathan Taylor is expected to miss a second straight game following surgery on his right thumb. RT Braden Smith (knee) did not finish last week’s game. Starting CB JuJu Brents (quad) has missed five straight games. Run-stuffing DT Grover Stewart should return Sunday after serving a six-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. Bengals running back Chase Brown (hamstring) and RT Jonah Williams (back) were limited in Wednesday's practice.

SERIES NOTES: The Colts snapped a two-game losing streak when these teams met in 2020. ... Indy has lost three straight at Cincinnati. ... The Colts have scored at least 23 points in each of their past five matchups with the Bengals. ... It’s a 99-mile trip from Indy’s home field, Lucas Oil Stadium, to the Bengals home field, Paycor Stadium — the shortest road trip in the AFC and the seventh shortest in the NFL. ... The Bengals and Colts met annually in their preseason finales until the NFL went to a 17-game regular-season schedule in 2021.

STATS AND STUFF: Indy has won four straight, the AFC’s longest active winning streak. The most recent time the Colts won five straight was 2018. One more win would double their victory total from last season. ... They enter Week 14 holding the conference’s seventh and final playoff spot. ... Minshew has nine 300-yard games in five pro seasons including a career-best three this season. He needs one win to match his single-season career high (six), which he achieved as a rookie in Jacksonville. ... If Pittman extends his streak of consecutive games with eight or more receptions to six, he will tie Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison for the longest streak in the franchise’s Indianapolis era. ... With six more sacks last week at Tennessee, Indy has 42 and needs five more to get the franchise’s highest single-season total since sacks became an official stat in 1982. The Colts also lead the NFL with 10 strip-sacks. ... Indy’s 69 tackles for loss are just two behind the Browns’ league-leading total. ... Last week, Indy became the NFL’s third team to block a punt this season. It was returned for a TD. ... Browning, the Bengals backup quarterback, has spent most of his NFL career on practice squads. ... Browning beat out the more experienced Trevor Siemian for the backup role in the preseason. ... Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase had 11 catches for 149 yards and a TD, his fifth 100-yard game of the season. ... Cincinnati K Evan McPherson made a 48-yard game-winner in overtime to snap the team’s three-game skid. ... Defensively, the Bengals held Jacksonville to 71 rushing yards, including just 22 in the second half. They also had four sacks. ... RB Joe Mixon has 1,494 career rushing attempts, 371 shy of Corey Dillon for the team record. In Week 10, Mixon surpassed Rudi Johnson for second place on the team’s career list. ... McPherson has converted 75 percent of his career field-goal attempts from 50 or more yards (21 of 28), the best mark in team history. ... Since the start of the 2021 season, the Bengals have the third-best record in the NFL when scoring first (18-3) and the second-best record when leading at halftime (20-2). ... DE Trey Hendrickson leads the team with 11 1/2 sacks.

FANTASY TIP: Rookie RB Chase Brown ran the ball nine times for 61 yards against the Jaguars, a performance that could earn him more playing time in a season in which the Bengals running game has mostly struggled.


AP NFL coverage:

The Associated Press