NFLX: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts Preview and Pick

Cincinnati Bengals +3, 35 at Indianapolis Colts, 7 pm Eastern Thursday
by Zman of

Regional rivals meet when the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Indianapolis Colts for the annual I-74 pre-season finale bout Thursday night at the new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Football Bookies are listing Indianapolis as 3 1/2-point home favorites for Thursday’s game, with a total of 35. The Colts are also posted at right around -175 on various Vegas moneylines, with Cincinnati getting around +160.

Indy has already played four exhibition games this summer, losing the Hall of Fame game to Washington 30-16, falling at Carolina 23-20 in OT, and winning at Atlanta 16-9 before opening their new stadium with an ugly 20-7 loss to Buffalo Sunday night.

Colts QB Peyton Manning, still nursing that knee/bursa sack he had operated on earlier this summer, hasn’t played a down yet this pre-season. And it’s unlikely he’ll see any on-field action Thursday night.

And Jim Sorgi, Indy’s back-up QB, missed Sunday’s game vs. Buffalo with a sore knee of his own, and he’s doubtful/questionable for Thursday’s game.

So Quinn Gray and Jared Lorenzen will handle the Colts’ QB duties Thursday, possibly with the 3rd-string job on the line.

On the brighter side of things, both S Bob Sanders and DE Dwight Freeney saw their first on-field action of this pre-season Sunday for Indianapolis, although it’s uncertain how much they’ll play Thursday night.

The Bengals are 1-2 so far this exhibition season, winning at Green Bay 20-17 and losing to Detroit 27-10 and, last Saturday, 13-0 to New Orleans.

The Cincy injury list looks like a roll-call of their best players. QB Carson Palmer got his nose broken Saturday, and he’s out for Thursday. WRs TJ Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson are dealing with a sore hammy and shoulder, respectively, and will probably watch from the sidelines Thursday. And while RB Rudi Johnson may see his first action of this exhibition season Thursday night, he’ll be limited.

These two teams last met in the pre-season finale last year, with Cincy taking a 14-6 decision at Paul Brown Stadium. These two teams last met in the regular season in December of 2006, when Indy beat the Bengals 34-16 in Indianapolis.

And these two teams will also play in week 14 of this upcoming regular season.

In their last three-plus pre-seasons under coach Tony Dungy, Indy is 3-14 straight up, 5-11-1 against the spread.

In its five seasons under coach Marvin Lewis, Cincy is 11-12 SU, 12-10-1 ATS.

Zman’s Pick: The Colts really have nothing to play for. Their backup QB is suspect as hell as well. Take the Bengals who will likely win this game straight up.