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Setting the Scene: Bengals vs. Colts

The Bengals this week travel to Indianapolis, which is 8-4 and steaming toward a playoff berth.

“I’m excited to play Indianapolis,” T.J. Houshmandzadeh said. “We’ve got four games to go, and when the season ends, I know I’m going to be bored, just waiting for next year. I like to play football, and I’m not going to jump off the ship when it might seem like it’s sinking. We’re hurting, but we’re going to try to piece together some wins. And get some offense going.”

The Colts, though clearly a formidable foe, are not quite the same high-octane Colts of recent years. They have better overall rankings on defense than on offense (11th in scoring defense compared to 22nd in scoring offense), and are 15th in net yards allowed compared to 21st in net yards. QB Peyton Manning is an uncharacteristic 15th in the NFL passer ratings. The Colts have won five straight since a 3-4 start, doing a remarkable job of winning close games.

They have built their winning streak on victory margins of three, four, six, three and four points. Last week, they failed to score an offensive TD for the first time since early in the 2003 season, but they came out of Cleveland with a 10-6 win.

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