Indianapolis Colts: A.J. Green

So much for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck not having to worry about teammate Robert Mathis sacking him in the Pro Bowl.

The two started out as teammates on Team Deion Sanders, which will be led by Colts coach Chuck Pagano and the rest of his coaching staff, but Mathis was later traded to Team Jerry Rice.

Now it’s Mathis, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks this season, and long snapper Matt Overton are on Rice’s team, which will be coached the Carolina Panthers staff. Luck will be with Pagano and also have to look out for Mathis coming from behind trying to strip-sack him in the game.

Luck is used to being the top player chosen in the draft. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft and he was the No. 1 overall pick in Day 2 of the Pro Bowl draft over players like Carolina’s Cam Newton and San Diego’s Philip Rivers. This is the first year that the Pro Bowl did away with the traditional AFC-NFC teams, electing to have a draft instead.

Luck will have plenty of offensive weapons to turn to, as he has Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles to hand the ball off to and pass to and A.J. Green from Cincinnati and Dez Bryant from Dallas at receiver.

Luck was 12-of-19 for 205 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in his first Pro Bowl last year. Mathis, voted to six straight Pro Bowls, had five tackles and a sack in last year’s game.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts put on extra layers, shook off the frigid air and spent the week practicing outside to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

There’s a chance Mother Nature won’t be too kind to either team at Paul Brown Stadium. The forecast calls for temperatures to be in the 30’s with a chance of snow on Sunday. The Colts haven’t played a game in the snow since the 2009 season.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
AP Photo/AJ MastTrent Richardson and the Colts' running backs might get a lot of work on Sunday in Cincinnati.
“You know what, the elements, it is what it is,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano. “From a ball-security standpoint, that’s what we stressed all week long. That’s why we got outside all week long. If it’s sleeting sideways and 30 degrees, 20 degrees, it really comes down to ball security, taking care of it. Makes throwing the ball a little bit difficult, too, so better pack a good run game.”

Limiting quarterback Andrew Luck's throwing ability and relying on the run game could cause some uneasiness since Luck is the Colts’ best offensive weapon, and the running game has been inconsistent this season.

But that’s what it might take for the Colts to have a chance to beat the Bengals, who are 5-0 at home, and get a game lead on them for the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff standings.

“I probably haven’t played in snow since I was throwing a football around as a kid, so very excited about it,” Luck said. “I love playing outside. I think there’s something about it that’s fun, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The Colts rushed for 104 yards -- only the second time in the past five games that they rushed for at least 100 yards -- against the Tennessee Titans last weekend.

“I can play in snow, as a kid,” running back Trent Richardson said laughing. “But it’s just something, you just got to go out there and fight it. You got to man up. This is what the big playmakers have done their whole life. You look at the Jim Browns, the Emmitt Smiths, the Fred Taylors, the Ricky Williams' and the Edgerrin James'. Look at those type of guys. Those guys fought through it, and they stuck it through the whole time in the snow. It didn’t matter to them.”

Indianapolis has to hope it can get something out of its running game, and with some Luck-being-Luck sprinkled in there, too, because the Bengals have the offensive weapons to put points on the board.

Cincinnati averages more than 363 yards a game and has won six of its past eight. Bengals receiver A.J. Green has 72 catches for 1,103 yards, which is only 71 yards less than what T.Y. Hilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, LaVon Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers gave combined for this season.

Indianapolis' defense forced four turnovers against Tennessee last weekend, and the unit might get cornerback Greg Toler (groin) back in the lineup for the first time in five games.

“It’s a talented team,” Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “They got good receivers, a good quarterback ... they got some players in the backfield with (Benjarvus Green-Ellis) and (Giovani Bernard). Talented guys that can see the hole and break long runs. We got to make sure we bottle them up as best we can.”

Schedule favors Indianapolis Colts

October, 27, 2013
10/27/13
6:15
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts will return to the practice Monday afternoon after coach Chuck Pagano gave his players the entire week off following their victory over the Denver Broncos on Oct. 20.

The Colts won't have receiver Reggie Wayne (knee) the rest of the season, but they're still in a good position to win the AFC South for the first time since 2010.

The Colts (5-2) have a two-game lead over the Tennessee Titans (3-4). They also have a favorable schedule the rest of the season. It puts them in the perfect spot to match their 11-5 record from last season as long as they can overcome losing Wayne and avoid playing to the level of their competition when they face struggling teams.

The road to their 5-2 record hasn’t been easy for the Colts. They’ve beaten the Broncos, Seattle and San Francisco. And they did it while having to overcome season-ending injuries to Wayne, Dwayne Allen, Vick Ballard, Donald Thomas and Ahmad Bradshaw. Starting safety LaRon Landry also missed four games with a high-ankle sprain. That’s what makes Indianapolis’ start even more impressive.

The Colts’ remaining nine opponents went into Sunday with a combined record of 23-26.

Here’s a breakdown of the Colts’ schedule:

Nov. 3 at Houston: The Texans were possible Super Bowl contenders in the AFC when the season began. Instead they've been one of the biggest disappointments. You wouldn’t have thought the Texans would have a quarterback issue with Matt Schaub, but he's thrown nine interceptions and isn’t a fan favorite in Houston.

Nov. 10 versus St. Louis: You know things are bad when a team calls 44-year-old Brett Favre to see if he’s interested in coming out of retirement to play quarterback. Starting quarterback Sam Bradford is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Nov. 14 at Tennessee: This is toss-up game for the Colts. The Titans have dropped three in a row, but they lost against Kansas City, Seattle and San Francisco and they were without quarterback Jake Locker in two of those games.

Nov. 23 at Arizona: The Bruce Arians reunion game. The Cardinals have Carson Palmer at quarterback – 8 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and sacked 20 times. Enough said.

Dec. 1 versus Titans: The Colts are 9-1 against the Titans in the last 10 games played in Indianapolis.

Dec. 8 at Cincinnati: The Bengals get the edge in this one because they’re at home and unlike Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton has one of the best receivers in the league, A.J. Green. The Bengals also have a top-10 defense.

Dec. 15 versus Texans: The Texans have never beaten the Colts in Indianapolis (0-11). The losing streak will remain.

Dec. 22 at Kansas City: Coach Andy Reid deserves a lot of credit for the job he’s done in turning the undefeated Chiefs around. They have a top-five defense.

Dec. 29 versus Jacksonville: History could be made at Lucas Oil Stadium on this day. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jaguars entered the game 0-15.

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