The Colts-Bengals series goes all the way back to 1970 where they met in the divisional round of the playoffs. The powerhouse Baltimore Colts mowed down the Bengals 17-0 en route to winning their first Super Bowl. It would be their first of four wins in their next five games versus Cincinnati.
By the '80s, the Bengals would go on a bit of run winning four of their next five meetings. This would be Cincinnati's only time controlling the series as Indianapolis would proceed to gon lengthy winning streaks against them starting in the late '80s all the way to the late 2000's when a dude named Peyton Manning debuted.
The Colts relocated to Indianapolis and won five straight from 1989 to 1994 then the Manning-led team would win a staggering seven-straight against the Bengals. But with Manning out of the picture, Cincinnati would finally snap the streak but their woes against the Colts wouldn't end with Luck now in the picture.
Luck would lead the Colts to a playoff victory over Cincinnati in 2015. And although the Bengals have won three of their last five meetings, it still feels like the Colts are in control of the series, especially as the Bengals seem to be trending down while the Colts are looking good again.
Indianapolis Colts Recent History
One word describes the Colts history: superstar quarterbacks. Throughout this team's existence, they have been blessed by quarterbacks who have carried the team to new heights beginning with Johnny Unitas in the '50s and '60s. The Colts would cap off his run with their first Super Bowl in 1970.
The team would relocate to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984 and would start off slow but would once again be blessed with another quarterback messiah in Manning. He would lead Indianapolis to multiple division titles, consecutive playoff appearances, two AFC titles, and a Super Bowl.
Once Manning left, the Colts quickly found Luck and they would go from worst to first in the span of a season. Though they have yet to reclaim their spot as a top team in the AFC, as long as Luck stays healthy and keeps improving, the Colts are set for another Super Bowl run.
Cincinnati Bengals Recent History
The Bengals are the Browns of the NFL playoffs. In their near-50 year existence, the Bengals have mustered only five playoff wins against 14 losses. The peak of their run came in the '80s when they were led by the likes of Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason. They made two Super Bowls, losing to the 49ers both times.
Following those runs, the Bengals wouldn't sniff the playoffs until the mid-2000's under Lewis. The Bengals would also win a few AFC North titles including several double-digit win seasons. But they all amounted to a grand total of zero playoff victories. Cincinnati holds the longest playoff game victory drought at 27 seasons.
And things aren't getting better for the Bengals. They have gone nowhere but down the last few seasons. They are still coached by the same guy and still have Andy Dalton as quarterback. Sooner rather than later, it's time to blow the team up. Again.
Indianapolis Colts Outlook
For his first four seasons, Luck played behind a patchwork Colts team. The defence slowly deteriorated and his offensive line was nowhere to be found. Luck took a beating and had to carry the team. Following his shoulder injury, the Colts made sure to welcome him back the right way.
Indianapolis took a flyer on tackle Austin Howard and used their first-round pick to draft guard Quenton Nelson. They didn't stop there and added even more linesmen ensuring they have depth and can continue to build in the future. They also added weapons for Luck later in the draft.
While the Colts spent on offence, they almost ignored the defence. Save for a few adds to the defensive line, the Colts will have to wait until next offseason to make improvements. Their weak D paired with a better offence means the Colts could be in shootouts. It should be an exciting season.
Cincinnati Bengals Outlook
This team had as many as seven Pro Bowlers at one point. AJ Green is an all-time great receiver. Their defence was once among the best in the conference. But that all seems so far away. The Bengals have continued to lose ground each year and 2018 appears like an even worse year.
The Bengals fixed the offensive line with the additions of Cordy Glenn and first-round pick Billy Price but that still doesn't account for the defence. Outside the d-line, the Bengals have holes at linebacker and at the secondary. Vontaze Burfict will miss a quarter of the season. And their special teams needs help.
At least their division rivals outside Pittsburgh aren't so good either. Cincinnati could finish second just behind Pittsburgh but still be a bad team. A rebuild is right around the corner.
It's doubtful Luck plays much in this game if he plays at all. So the Colts will be led by Jacoby Brissett, who is an underrated backup. Brissett will have a solid second unit with him as plenty of the Colts' starting unit have open spots particularly on the offensive line.
Running backs Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins will also push to upend Marlon Mack for that starting spot. The three aren't too far off in talent. And on defence, several of the Colts' picks could get burn including their second-round picks: defensive ends Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis and linebacker Darius Leonard.
On Cincy's end, Matt Barkley will start at quarterback and will have a shoddy o-line with him. The Bengals' new acquisitions will start on the first unit though there should also be a battle for spots. But on defence, their second unit is a big dropoff from their starters.
Based on depth, the Colts should win this one.