4:15 PM ET, November 20, 2005
Indianapolis (9-0) at Cincinnati (7-2), Sunday 4:15 pm EST
CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Chad Johnson is making no guarantee. Marvin Lewis wants it that way.
Johnson created quite a furor two years ago when he predicted the Cincinnati Bengals would upset the Kansas City Chiefs, who entered Paul Brown Stadium with a 9-0 record. The Chiefs left with their first loss of the season.
On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts come here with a 9-0 record. But the Pro Bowl receiver isn't talking this time.
"Coach (Marvin Lewis) had a talk to me about that," Johnson said. "I'm going to listen to my coach and just say that Sunday's game should be a great game."
The last team to start a season 10-0 was the 1998 Denver Broncos, who won their first 13 games. Only 15 teams in the 86-year history of the NFL have reached 10-0, starting with the 1929 Green Bay Packers and ending with the Broncos.
The only team to have a perfect season in NFL history was the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who went 14-0 in the regular season and won all three postseason games.
"Talk to us about 16-0 when we get to 15-0," Colts defensive tackle Corey Simon said. "The talent in this league won't allow us to look any farther ahead."
A year ago, Palmer and Chad Johnson drove to Indianapolis on a Monday night to sit in the stands and learn from the Colts' record-setting duo of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.
Although Manning is in his eighth year and Palmer is in his second season, the two share an NFL mark. Palmer's nine straight games with a passer rating of more than 100, dating to last season, tied the record set by Manning in 2004.
Manning has passed for 2,169 yards and 17 touchdowns for a quarterback rating of 104.6. Palmer has passed for 2,285 yards and 18 touchdowns for a rating of 106.3
A two-time rushing champion, James leads the AFC with 1,027 rushing yards. Rudi Johnson has rushed for 778 yards.
Harrison has 898 career receptions and needs two to reach 900 in his 149th career game. Jerry Rice, the NFL's all-time leading receiver, reached 900 catches in his 168th career game.
Chad Johnson leads the AFC with 808 receiving yards and is tied for second in the conference with 53 catches. Wayne tops the AFC with 54 receptions for 633 yards.
But these teams are not all about offensive playmakers.
The Bengals lead the league in interceptions (20) and total takeaways (29). Cornerback Deltha O'Neal tops the league with six interceptions and Colts linebacker Cato June is tied for second with five.
Matchup to watch: Harrison, who had seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in a 31-17 win over Houston last week, faces O'Neal.
Series: The Colts lead, 13-8, and have won the last three meetings.
Next week: Indianapolis hosts Pittsburgh, November 28 Cincinnati hosts Baltimore, November 27
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Colts face difficult test
The Colts face one of their toughest remaining games in the pursuit of an undefeated season. No offense in the NFL is capable of stacking up with the Colts three-headed monster of QB Peyton Manning, WR Marvin Harrison and RB Edgerrin James, but Bengals QB Carson Palmer, WR Chad Johnson and RB Rudi Johnson are at least formidable competition.
The Bengals do have the advantage of playing at home, but that did not bode so well in their last big test versus the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. If Cincinnati is to pull off the home upset, its defense must tighten up versus the run and avoid giving up the big play to WRs Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley. Turnovers, time of possession and special teams are also facets of the game that coach Marvin Lewis must stress heading into what could be a playoff preview between two of the AFC's four divisional leaders.
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|Avg Points Allowed||15.2||17.9|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||IND|
|Rush Yds Allowed||IND|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Indianapolis leads 2-0|
|Oct 6, 2002||IND 28, CIN 21|