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Week 1 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 34, Indianapolis Colts 23


What you need to know

Cincinnati Bengals

-Joe Mixon dominated the running back snaps and touches. Not only did he see 17 carries to Giovani Bernardsí 1, he also out-targeted Bernard 7 to 1. He looked fantastic, fueling optimism about his chances of a breakout second season.

-Giovani Bernard was an afterthought and should be considered mostly a fantasy handcuff to Mixon at this point, with little weekly appeal as long as Mixon stays healthy.

-A.J. Green fumbled twice (losing one), a major issue he needs to fix. He was otherwise strong, getting behind the Colts defense twice. Once, for a long touchdown and then to draw a 36-yard pass interference penalty.

-Along with Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross received basically all of the snaps at wide receiver. Ross caught a short touchdown but Boyd saw more targets (5) than Ross (2).

-Tyler Eifert played 65% of the snaps and caught all three of his targets in a successful return to action.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts showed the same play calling tendencies they did in the preseason. The Colts play calling favored the short and quick passing game with only a few downfield throws. Luck had two accurate throws downfield but otherwise was well off target. Luck could have had as many as 4 turnovers and the Colts were inefficient in the red zone. TY Hilton dropped a pass downfield and faced tight coverage from the Bengals corners all game. Jordan Wilkins holds the job as the early down back and Nyheim Hines holds the role of 3rd down back. Hines racked up 6 targets in two minute hurry up situations. Jack Doyle was the target of a Luck interception and had a late fumble that gave the Bengals the game. Eric Ebron was involved and made plays underneath and downfield.

Cincinnati Bengals

QB Andy Dalton, 55 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 28 - 243 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0
It was an excellent start to the season for Dalton. He threw with accuracy, showed athleticism to escape pressure, and displayed a strong rapport with each of his top receiving targets. The game started on a down note, however. Daltonís first pass of the game, he was trying to hit Joe Mixon on a swing route but rookie center Billy Price got destroyed and the defensive tackle hit Daltonís arm as he released the pass. The ball fluttered into the hands of a Colts defender. Dalton made a strong open-field tackle to save a touchdown, which ended up saving seven points as the Colts turned the ball over. Daltonís toughness also showed up on a game-changing 3rd-and-6 scramble late in the game when Dalton dove head first for a first down, taking a big hit instead of sliding. It setup the go-ahead touchdown. Dalton hit A.J. Green for a 38-yard touchdown on a perfectly thrown deep ball. He released the ball early, lofted it over the safety in the middle of the field and allowed Green to run under it in the end zone. Dalton also connected with John Ross for a touchdown on a well-thrown fade route from three yards out. The only negative for Dalton moving forward was that the pass protection from the right side of the line didnít hold up even against the Colts mediocre stable of rushers, with both the right guard and right tackle allowing five pressure each. Against teams with better defensive ends, Dalton is going to see a lot of pressure in his face.

RB Joe Mixon, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 95 - 1, Rec: 5 - 54 - 0 (7 targets)
Mixon was fantastic, both as a runner and pass catcher against the Colts and looks to be well on his way to a breakout season. The Bengals clearly wanted to get him established early, with six of the first seven plays of the game either handoffs or passes to Mixon. He quickly made his presence with a decisive 7-yard run straight up the gut on the first play of the game. He opened the second drive with runs of 4 and 7 yards and then burst for a gain of 21 on a screen pass down the left sideline. He looks noticeably faster and more explosive after slimming down in the offseason. His speed was evident on his long run of the day as well. He outran a Colts linebacker to the edge on an outside run and flew down the sideline for a gain of 21. Mixonís touchdown came from a yard out. The Bengals lined up in a heavy formation with a defensive lineman in at fullback and Mixon leaped over the top to get in. Mixon dominated in terms of usage, with over 90% (22 of 24) of the running back touches on the day. On the game-winning fourth-quarter drive, Mixon was the key, touching the ball on 7-of-10 plays. His seven targets show the Bengals plan to use him heavily as a pass catcher, which makes him an elite fantasy option going forward.

RB Giovani Bernard, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets)
Bernard was a non-factor in Week 1. Though he played 25% of the snaps, he touched the ball just twice. He was stacked up in the backfield for a loss on his only carry and he received just one target in the passing game. Bernard had a third touch that went for a big loss but he drew a horse collar tackle to nullify the loss. Bernardís minimal usage is especially troubling from a fantasy perspective considering the Bengals trailed nearly the entire game.

WR A.J. Green, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 92 - 1 (8 targets)
There were plenty of highlights and lowlights for Green in an uneven performance. He fumbled twice, losing one and getting lucky when Tyler Boyd was able to recover the second fumble. Green also had a drop in the end zone on what should have been a 3-yard touchdown. The fumbles were both caused by defensive backs punching at the ball when Green was trying to get yards after the catch. He will need to work on his ball security, which was also a major issue down the stretch of the 2017 season. His long arms, which are so helpful extending to catch the ball also make it tougher for him to tightly secure the ball after the catch. Aside from the three mistakes, Green was borderline dominant. He lined up in the slot and ran a deep post, flying past the safety in the middle of the field and then diving to secure the catch for a 38-yard touchdown. He also drew a 36-yard pass interference penalty inside the Colts 5-yard line to setup another Bengals touchdown. Green was efficient with his eight targets (nine when counting the pass interference), catching six and looked dominant against overmatched Colts defensive backs.

WR Tyler Boyd, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (5 targets)
Boyd took most of the snaps in two-wide receiver sets and played 87% of the snaps overall. His 5 targets against the Colts were third on the team behind only A.J. Green and Joe Mixon. Boyd made a key play late, picking up 17 yards on a 3rd-and-long to keep the chains moving. He caught the ball short but found room to run down the right sideline. Boyd also made one of the most important plays of the game recovering an A.J. Green fumble amidst a trio of Colts.

WR John Ross, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 1 (2 targets)
Ross played 65% of the snaps and was on the field every time the Bengals went to three wide receivers (which is the base offense). Andy Dalton looked his way early on a go route but press coverage forced Ross close to the sideline and Dalton had to throw it away. Ross caught a 3rd yard touchdown on a fade route. He badly beat the press attempt of the defensive back off the line with his quickness and made it look easy, catching the ball in the back of the end zone.

TE Tyler Eifert, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 44 - 0 (3 targets)
It was a positive opener for Eifert. He played 65% of the snaps and looked to be the same player he was in his very successful 2015 season.

Eifert started quickly with a 29-yard gain on a crossing route early in the first quarter. He is in shape and showed a nice burst running after the catch.


Indianapolis Colts

QB Andrew Luck, 82 offensive snaps, Pass: 39 - 53 - 319 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0
After taking over in excellent field position following an interception, Andrew Luck threw an ugly red zone interception. Luck threw behind Jack Doyle into double coverage. Andrew Luck methodically moved the Colts down the field with the short passing game but the drive once again stalled in the red zone leading to a Adam Vinatieri field goal. The Colts fixed their red zone struggles by scoring from outside the red zone on their ensuing possession. Luck methodically moved the ball down the field with completions to TY Hilton and Eric Ebron before connecting with Ebron downfield for a 26 yard touchdown. The Colts once again settled for a field goal after moving ball down field. The drive stalled with a miscue between Hilton and Luck. The Colts managed yet another field goal thanks to their short passing game and a roughing the passer penalty. Luck had consecutive passes that should have been intercepted. The first was an underthrow to Hilton and the second was well off target throwing to Jack Doyle nearly leading to an interception. The Colts final scoring possession was more of the dink and dunk passing game all the down the field. Luck found Hilton on a slant route for a 5 yard touchdown. Luck had a fumble negated by a roughing the passer penalty because Carlos Dunlap forced the fumble with his helmet. Luck moved the Colts down the field trailing by 4 running the two minute offense. The drive ended with a Jack Doyle fumble as the Colts were entering the red zone.

RB Jordan Wilkins, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 40 - 0, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)
Jordan Wilkins started the game at running back for the Colts. Wilkins followed nice blocked from Quenten Nelson and Jack Doyle through a big hole for 13 yards. Jordan Wilkins took an 8 yard catch down to the two yard line before being knocked out of bounds. Wilkins was stuffed the following play on an inside handoff.

RB Nyheim Hines, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 19 - 0, Rec: 7 - 33 - 0 (9 targets)
Nyheim Hines was the second running back to see action behind Jordan Wilkins who started the game. Hines beat man coverage underneath and showed his speed to pick up 17 yards over the middle. Hines made back to back catches during the two minute drill for gains of 7 and 8 yards. Hines was targeted 4 consecutive times running the two minute offense on the Colts final possession. Hines gained 8, gained 3, lost 5 yards, and the last target was a throw away.

WR Ryan Grant, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 59 - 0 (9 targets)
Ryan Grant caught a slant for a 3 yard gain. Ryan Grant ran a curl route and picked up 6 yards. Grant made a nice catch over the middle working between the linebackers and safeties for 13 yards. Grant made consecutive catches underneath for gains of 8 and 13 yards. Grant ran a quick out route for 5 yards. Grant was targeted downfield on back shoulder throw but the pass was well defended. Grant made back to back catches of 4 and 8 yards.

WR T.Y. Hilton, 80 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 46 - 1 (11 targets)
TY Hilton made his first catch running a shallow crossing route for a 7 yard gain. Hilton ran a very nice double move and picked up 13 yards over the middle. Hilton made a very nice sideline catch running a comeback route for a 13 yard gain. Hilton had pass interference called against him after making a 24 yard catch. TY Hilton beat his man running a slant and caught a 5 yard touchdown. The two deep targets Hilton saw from Luck looked like wounded ducks flying threw the air and were uncatchable. Hilton had his third deep target bounce off his finger tips on what would have been a 25 plus yard gain. Hilton made a catch running a curl for 8 yards.

WR Chester Rogers, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (3 targets)
Chester Rogers picked up 8 yards running a slant on 3rd and 2. Rogers converted another 3rd and 2 this time running a crossing route for 6 yards.

TE Jack Doyle, 77 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 60 - 0 (10 targets)
Jack Doyle was targeted inside the 5 yard line but Luck's throw was well off target and was intercepted. Doyle made his first two catches running the two minute drill before halftime for gains of 5 and 8 yards. Doyle picked up 9 yards running a curl route inside the 10 yard line before being upended. Doyle beat man coverage running an out route for 12 yards. Doyle made a 3 yard catch underneath the following play. Doyle again beat his man running an out breaking route for a solid gain but was wrapped up and stripped of the ball to seal the game for the Bengals.

TE Eric Ebron, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 51 - 1 (5 targets)
Eric Ebron picked up 12 yards on a check down from Luck running a crossing route. Eric Ebron came wide open downfield on what appeared to be a blown coverage. Luck found Ebron for an easy 26 yard touchdown. Ebron beat man coverage over the middle for a gain of 12.