Neither line surrenders a lot of sacks and both rank in the top 10 in that category (Cin 6th – 26; Indy 9th – 29). And, neither line is particularly good at run blocking (Cin 18th – 112.6; Indy 20th 109.4). However, regardless of Donald Brown’s success, the Colts other back (the #3 overall pick just 1 year ago) is getting just 2.8 ypc. The Bengals line, while has been disappointing this year, looked much better run blocking with Whitworth at LG and Collins at LT. If Zeitler plays on Sunday – and it sounds like he will – I like this line with Collins at LT and Whitworth at LG. I expect a big game running the ball for the Bengals.
I thought the trade for Trent Richardson was brilliant. He was struggling in Cleveland, but I chalked that up to a poor line and QB no one was worried about. Playing with a top QB like Luck, I expected Richardson to become a huge weapon. 10 games into the trade, I think it is safe to say Richardson was the problem and it had nothing to do with his line or QB.
Richardson has averaged just 2.8 ypc, has a long run of 16 yards, has only 2 TDs, and has been replaced in the starting lineup by Donald Brown. Behind the same line, Brown and Bradshaw have averaged 5.3 and 4.5 ypc respectively. Though Brown’s 5.3 ypc is impressive, he only has 71 carries on the year, has never carried the ball more than 134 times, and after 5 years in the league, has never been the lead back.
In 2013, Brown has never had back-to-back games with double digit carries (14 last week). The Bengals running backs have had a down year as well, but much better than the Colts and last week BJGE looked like the BJGE of 2012 (20-92 1 TD). The Bengals offensive line looked to kick it into another gear when Whitworth moved to LG and Collins to LT.
With Boling out for the year and Zeitler looking to be back and healthy, I expect the same line Sunday and similar results to what we saw in San Diego. With the weather that is predicted for Sunday (High of 32 and possible snow, sleet and freezing rain), I expect the ground games to have a lot to say about who wins this game – and the Bengals have the better ground game and better backs.