Both the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals are heading into the 2013 NFL regular season with high hopes. With two young quarterbacks at the helm, the teams made up 33 percent of last year’s AFC playoff teams. On Thursday night, they will get their final tune-up before they try to do that again.
Cincinnati will host Indianapolis in the fourth exhibition game of the year, as every NFL team closes out the preseason on Thursday. Both teams enter the contest at 2-1.
The Bengals enter their final preseason game with lofty expectations by many experts. They have made the playoffs two years in a row, but after consecutive first-round exits, the club may be ready to take the next step in 2013. Only three AFC teams have better odds to win the Super Bowl. Even though the Bengals are in a division that includes the Pittsburgh Steelers and defending champion Baltimore Ravens, they are favored to take first place in the AFC North, according to Bovada.
The Colts surprised many in 2012 with their run to the postseason. After losing Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis won 11 games and reached the playoffs. In a division with weak teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, they should be in the mix to do the same in 2013.
Andy Dalton and Andrew Luck could be two of the top quarterbacks in a few years, but the two, likely, won’t see the field much on Thursday. The Bengals signal caller has been efficient in three games, completing 65 percent of his passes. He made one key mistake against the Dallas Cowboys last week, throwing an interception in a 24-18 loss.
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Luck has looked like he’s ready to improve on what was a solid rookie campaign. When he got a chance to play most of the way against the Cleveland Browns, he went 16-for-25 for 164 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Colts only preseason loss came in Week One, when Luck had just six pass attempts.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET. Viewers in Columbus, Lima and Louisville can watch the game on local TV on channels six, 35, and 41, respectively. A live stream online is available with NFL Preseason Live.
Betting Odds: Cincinnati -3.5, 38
Prediction: Cincinnati 17, Indianapolis 10