CINCINNATI BENGALS AT HOUSTON TEXANS
January 7, 2012
Cincinatti Bengals (9-7) Houston Texans (10-6)
This year, the Bengals went 0-7 against playoff teams, including a 20-19 loss to the Texans in week However, the losses in 6 of the 7 were within 8 points.
Houston is entering the playoffs on a three game losing streak as a result of having their number 1 quarterback Matt Shaub, #1 receiver Andre Johnson injured for most of the season and their #1 running back Arian Foster injured throughout the beginning and end of the season.
Of the three number #1′s on offence for the Texans, both Arian Foster and Andre Johnson are set to be in the line-up on Wildcard weekend this Saturday as the Texans square off with rookie Quarterback TJ Yates versus Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals.
The main question is whether or not Houston’s partially injured stars on offense will be able to score enough to sneak by the Bengals. Andre Johnson was barely a factor in week 17 and with another week, he should be more of a target. That said, hamstring injuries can lag and there is a good chance the Bengals defence will be able to slow the normally super-human Andre Johnson.
Running the ball will be where this game is won or lost for the Texans. The good news for the Texans is that Ben Tate has been as or even more effective (5.4 yards per carry vs Arian Fosters 4.4 yards per carry) and Houston’s offensive line and running attack has been unstoppable. The Bengals have been decent against the run for most of the year and rank 10th in the league versus the run.
A few factors that are notable when considering the outcome of this game include:
1) Andy Dalton has been ill leading up to Thursday practice. Dalton needs to be at his peak mental and physical condition if the Bengals have any chance against the Texans stellar defense.
2) How effective with Andre Johnson and Arian Foster be? These guys attract a lot of attention and can open the field up for the other Texan receivers. Cincinnati stacks the box and if Andre Johnson can be effective there could be an opportunity for some bigtime plays if the Bengals choose to go man coverage on him.
3) Is the Bengals playoff position solely a factor of an easy regular season schedule and a lot of luck. The Bengals are yet to beat a playoff team. Is this the week?
The bookies have the Texans as 3 point favorites at home which suggests that these teams are equally matched. The teams are more equally matched with TJ Yates at Quarterback and with an injured Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. With these two guys probably for kick off Saturday, the Texans regain the advantage.
Prediction: I think this game will be close and low scoring. I like the under 38 points and think that Houston’s defense will get it done, but the game should be close. I’m picking Houston to win, but I’m sticking with the under for the money.
Houston 17- Cincinnati 14
If your looking to get in on the action, check out the lines below on the best online NFL betting sites:
PinnacleSports.com has opened with the Texans as 3 point favourites at home against the Bengals
Bodog currently has a line of (+3.5) for the Bengals against the Texans.