Quarterback Andrew Luck doesn't have a history of playing a lot of football in the snow.
But if weather forecasts for this weekend remain on track, Sunday's AFC battle between the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals may be severely tested by the weather.
A heavy dose of snow is forecast for the Cincinnati area, which means that the playing surface at Paul Brown Stadium may be a little on the slippery side.
"I probably haven't played in the snow since I was throwing a football around as a kid, so (I'm) very excited about (the possibility)," Luck said Wednesday. "I think there's something about it that's fun, so we're looking forward to it.
"I don't think you want to think about it too much, in a sense. I think when you start thinking about (the weather), you're thinking about the wrong things."
For the moment, the Colts' second-year quarterback isn't as concerned about the weather as he is facing a Cincinnati team that comes into Sunday's matchup with an identical 8-4 record. Both teams are expected to win their respective divisions (AFC South, AFC North) and are vying for the best possible playoff seeding.
"Yeah, we know it's going to be a great challenge. I think they're the leaders of the AFC North right now. A phenomenal football team. I know from our perspective as an offense, (Cincinnati has) a tough stingy defense," he pointed out.
"An aggressive defense. A lot of playmakers all over the field. So it will be a great challenge and it will be a lot of fun."
Luck, as does the rest of the Colts team, know the stakes involved in the game with Cincinnati.
"Coach (Chuck) Pagano sort of spelled out where we are as a team. I think it's good to sort of be aware of that. But also, at the same time, it's a football game," he said. "We go out to win every football game, especially when it's down in Cincinnati (that's) a couple of hours away. (It's) a good little rivalry.
"We've got to win games to make it to the playoffs. And then also you hope to sort of, not that the ship is in the wrong direction, but iron out all of your kinks and we know we've got a chance to do that."
As for the Bengals' defense, Luck is pretty familiar with Cincinnati weak-side linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The two faced each other in college several times (Stanford, Arizona State).
"I thought he was definitely a playmaker in college and he's definitely seemed to flourish in these couple of years with the Bengals," the Colts signal-caller said.
"I'm happy for him. Great football player. You definitely have to respect the way he plays the game and he's done a heck of a job. It's going to be a fun challenge."
SERIES HISTORY: 26th regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 16-9. The Colts and Bengals have also met once in the post-season, with the then-Baltimore Colts posting a 17-0 victory in 1970. Cincinnati won the last meeting of the two franchises, registering a 27-17 decision at Paul Brown Stadium in 2011. Quarterback Andy Dalton completed 25-of-32 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown in the win. Indianapolis posted a 23-17 victory over the Bengals in 2010 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning connected on 20-of-36 passes for 185 yards in the win. The Colts have won seven of the last eight meetings and seven of the past nine matchups that have been played in Cincinnati. Indianapolis is 1-1 at Paul Brown Stadium and was 7-2 at Riverfront/Cinergy Stadium. Indianapolis and Cincinnati have faced off in regular-season play six times in the last nine seasons. Cincinnati and Indianapolis is the closest geographical rivalry among AFC cities (110 miles). Sunday's game will mark the first-ever meeting with Chuck Pagano as the Colts' head coach. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has a 1-4 career coaching record against Indianapolis.
--Colts coach Chuck Pagano was asked how his team is still in position to achieve all of the Colts' season goals.
He said, "We're just going to focus on the next game. And that's the Bengals. Again, our guys understand where we're at. They understand the record. They understand the division. They understand what we have to do to get into the playoffs. Certainly, we're not going to get ahead of ourselves. The worst thing that we could do, like we've done before, is get complacent or take a big exhale, sigh of relief, if you will. We're going to keep our edge. We got to stay focused and hopefully we got some things to work on obviously and we'll address that. We'll keep working. We've got to get better. The guys are focused on that. We're playing a damn good football team (Sunday). (Bengals coach) Marvin Lewis has done a great job."
--Running back Donald Brown on what the rest of the season may have in store for the Colts: "We just want to give ourselves a chance. And at the end of the day, we want to control our own destiny. Honestly take it one week at a time. We just want to stay the course. You can't ride the highs and lows of the season. You just need to stay even-keeled. Just stay the course and keep grinding along."
--The Colts are a league-best 15-2 in games decided by eight points or fewer since the start of the 2012 season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 14.7 -- The Colts have converted 14.7 percent of their third-down opportunities in the first halves of the last five games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I ain't going to sit here and lie and tell you we don't scoreboard watch. We do. But at the same time, we have to be focused on what we're doing. This is really just staying alert on everything that's going on and just being aware of your surroundings. Really just stick to the script. You lay the blueprint at the beginning of the year, you stay on track and stay on course with it and you just let it take care of itself. You just have to put in the effort and the work." -- Colts OLB Robert Mathis on the final month of the NFL regular season.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Colts elevated OLB Daniel Adongo and OT Xavier Nixon from the practice squad to the active roster. Indianapolis also added FB Robert Hughes and DT Jeris Pendleton to the practice squad. Adongo is a former professional rugby player who had never played American football until signing with the Colts last summer. An outstanding athlete, he will be making his NFL debut Sunday against the Bengals. ILB Mario Harvey (torn meniscus) and RB Daniel "Boom" Herron (pectoral tear) were both placed on the Colts' injured reserve list.
--Rookie WR Da'Rick Rogers was in on about 20 offensive snaps last week against Tennessee. It was Rogers' first playing time with the Colts since he was elevated from the practice squad four weeks ago. The first-year player who attended Tennessee and Tennessee Tech has impressed his teammates, most notably veteran WR Reggie Wayne. "He has all the talent in the world," Wayne said. "You're probably going to see more of that from this point on."
--Rookie OLB Daniel Adongo will work primarily on special teams Sunday at Cincinnati, but hasn't been completely ruled out of seeing time with the Colts' defense. Adongo, who will wear No. 56, was elevated from the practice squad on Tuesday. He has gained about 30 pounds since signing with Indianapolis last summer and is up to 270 pounds. "We will try to integrate Daniel starting as a special teamer," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. "Realistically, there's not a great need for him at outside linebacker right now."
--While WR Darrius Heyward-Bey has heard his share of critics, due in large part to his inconsistency in catching the ball, veteran WR Reggie Wayne is still in his corner. Heyward-Bey had a huge drop in the third quarter of last week's game with Tennessee. "We talked. He knows he messed that up pretty bad. (But) admitting it is half the battle," Wayne said. "Mentally, he's fine. He's a professional. In my 13 years, nobody spends more time with the JUGS machine than DHB. He's eager to turn it around."
--With G/T Jeff Linkenbach sidelined indefinitely due to a torn quad, no decision has been made yet as to who will start at right offensive guard for the Colts. OG Mike McGlynn, who started the first 11 games before being replaced by Linkenbach last week, is one candidate. Joe Reitz is another possibility.
--Rookie OLB Josh McNary played in his first NFL game last week in the win over Tennessee. The first-year player from Army signed with the Colts prior to the start of training camp and had been on the team's practice squad. "It felt great finally getting the feel for the speed of an NFL game," McNary said. "You watch film and you practice but nothing accurately simulates that real game speed and game strength."
--DT Fili Moala will take over as a starter for Indianapolis with DT Ricky Jean Francois sidelined with a foot injury. Moala had been a starter or part-time for the Colts since being drafted in the second round in 2009.
--S Sergio Brown (hand) fully practiced Thursday. Brown did not take part in Wednesday's workout. He is expected to play Sunday at Cincinnati.
--WR T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) went through a full workout on Thursday. Hilton saw light work on Wednesday. He will start against the Bengals on Sunday.
--OLB Robert Mathis (rest) returned for Thursday's workout. Mathis will start against Cincinnati on Sunday.
--OG Hugh Thornton (neck) had light practice work on Thursday. Thornton had sat out Wednesday. He is expected to be a game-time decision against the Bengals on Sunday.
--DT Ricky Jean Francois (foot) left the Tennessee game in the third quarter. His injury was initially diagnosed as a sprained foot but he underwent an MRI afterward. He will miss two to four weeks with a plantar fascia tear.
--G/T Jeff Linkenbach (quad) is listed week to week. The injury was diagnosed as a torn quad, which is thought to be a Grade II strain. Linkenbach will not be available to play Sunday at Cincinnati against the Bengals.
--CB Greg Toler (groin) saw light practice on Wednesday during individual drill period. No decision has been made on Toler's availability for the Cincinnati game. He has been sidelined since the Oct. 20 game with Denver.
--ILB Kavell Conner (ankle) returned for full practice Wednesday. Conner's status for Sunday's road game with the Bengals has not been decided. He suffered a high ankle sprain in practice three weeks ago.
--CB Josh Gordy (groin) participated in full work during Wednesday's practice. Gordy has not played since the Oct. 20 home game with Denver. He saw some work in practice last week but tweaked his injury and was held out of the Tennessee game. Gordy's status for Sunday's matchup with Cincinnati has not been determined.
GAME PLAN: Put together four strong quarters of football in all three phases.
Sounds awfully simple, but that hasn't been the case for Indianapolis for the past month. The Colts have started out cold in their last five games, but have rallied in two wins over Tennessee and a victory over Houston.
Getting off to good starts offensively and defensively have proven to be somewhat troublesome. Cincinnati is too good a team to fall behind quickly and then try to rally yet again. Especially against a tough, hard-nosed Bengals defensive unit.
With bad weather forecast for Sunday, throwing the ball may be tougher than usual. Establishing the running game, even against a defense like Cincinnati's, is key.
Defensively, the Colts have to figure out a way to apply pressure and to come up with some turnovers. Indianapolis had four takeaways in last week's win over Tennessee.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Colts QB Andrew Luck vs. Bengals pass rush -- Luck was sacked five times against Tennessee last week and if not for his mobility in the pocket, it could have been a lot worse than that. He has been sacked 29 times through the first 12 games of the season. Cincinnati has recorded 36 sacks defensively.
Bengals QB Andy Dalton vs. Colts OLB Robert Mathis -- Dalton has been sacked 26 times and he will be pressured by Mathis, who has a league-leading 15.5 sacks this season. The Colts' outside linebacker had a strip-sack in last week's win over the Titans, giving him 41 in his career. Mathis is a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Indianapolis Colts