indianapolis coltsThe Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals, two teams with playoff aspirations, get together for the final preseason game of their respective 2016 campaigns. Both squads were devastated by injuries to their franchise quarterbacks a year ago. Both have gone out of their ways this off-season to try and ensure that that doesn’t happen again. Or that if it does, a competent backup is in place to reduce the drop-off.

What: Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday, September 1, 7:30 p.m., Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Last Week/Next Week

The Indianapolis Colts lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 33-23 last week to drop to 1-2 in the preseason. The Colts open the regular season by hosting the Detroit Lions on Sunday, September 11 at 4:25 p.m ET. The Cincinnati Bengals lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 26-21 on Saturday. They begin their regular season on Sunday, September 11 by traveling to New Jersey to take on the New York Jets in a 1 p.m. ET kickoff.

Cincinnati Bengals Preview

The best news for the Cincinnati Bengals Monday morning is that both wide receiver A.J. Green and cornerback Adam Jones were not seriously injured. Green left the field limping but chalked it up to a banged knee suffered while getting tackled.

“I felt what a banged knee was and had that feeling,” Green said. “I wasn’t worried.” Green is the Bengals’ top receiving threat and has been a Top 5 receiving talent in the league since entering it in 2011. He has five straight years of at least 1,000 yards receiving. Lat year he caught 86 passes for 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns.

A more bizarre injury was the strained calf that Adam Jones suffered during warmups. He was held out of the game altogether.

“It was kind of a freak accident,” Jones said. “But as I got out there walking around, it kind of eased up a little bit. We’ll see on Monday, get a little treatment. I’ll be ready.”

Special Teams Pain

The same could not be said for special teams guru and team captain Cedric Peerman. The running back who has made the Pro Bowl for his special teams efforts broke his left forearm. He will likely miss a giant portion of the season if not the whole thing.

“To watch it is one thing, but to know the person that it happened to, the person that Ced is…it sucked,” fellow running back Giovanni Bernard said. “It’s part of the game that we play, part of this life that we chose, but it always sucks.”

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said he thinks Peerman’s injury will redirect how many backups the team carries at each position.

“Obviously I don’t want to speculate, but we have some great guys that can step in,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “Obviously he’s done a great job for us, and maybe guys at other positions will step up. It just changes how we go about things.”

Indianapolis Colts Preview

The 33-23 loss to Philadelphia is misleading. It sounds like the Colts were a solid shootout. That was not the case. The Eagles dominated the Colts’ starting offense and did the same thing to its reserves until the final seven minutes of the game.  Adam Vinatieri kicked a short field goal for the first score of the game. But the Colts didn’t score again on offense until 6:43 was left in the fourth quarter – a span of 47 minutes and 53 seconds. Down 24-3 late in the third quarter, the team got a blocked punt recovered in the end zone by Jordan Todman for a touchdown.

Down 33-10, the Colts pulled closer with a Stephen Morris 1-yard touchdown run, but missed the conversion try. Morris then threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Trey Williams with 1:20 to play in regulation to pull them within 33-23.

Starting quarterback Andrew Luck was 13 of 18 for 134 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He was sacked three times for 18 yards. Backup Scott Tolzien, the Colts’ upgrade over 350-year-old Matt Hasselback, was 5 of 9 for 55 yards and an interception.

The Colts’ rushing attack was ugly, speaking to continued problems with the offensive line. The team managed just 39 yards on 18 carries, barely two yards per attempt. Remove Robert Turbin’s 12-yard gain and the number drops to 27 yards total on 17 carries, less than two yards per carry.

The defense did not play well either, although some leniency must be given for how often that unit was on the field. The Colts had one interception – returned 13 yards by Darius Butler – but only one sack and one tackle for a loss. Vinatieri also missed an extra point.

Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals Predictions

Neither team is the slightest bit interest in risking injuries in this one. The Bengals will try some different guys at special teams and wide receiver to fill out the roster at those positions. The Colts need to decide who to keep at offensive line, because without depth there, Andrew Luck is not more effective than you or me.

Score Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 20, Indianapolis Colts 16