Can the Cincinnati Bengals Win in the Playoffs for the First Time in 21 Years?

Michael NargiSenior Analyst IJanuary 5, 2012

Andy Dalton leads the Cincinnati Bengals to a Wild Card game against the Houston Texans on Saturday.
Andy Dalton leads the Cincinnati Bengals to a Wild Card game against the Houston Texans on Saturday.John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals have not won a playoff game in 21 years. They will have an opportunity this weekend in Houston to end the streak.

The Bengals begin the playoffs on the road against the Houston Texans on Saturday afternoon. It will be a rematch from Week 14, when the Texans rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Bengals, 20-19. 

The Texans entered the second half trailing 16-3, and trailed by six points with 2:33 remaining in the game.

T.J. Yates lead Houston 80 yards on the final drive of the game, throwing a game-winning 6-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Walter with two seconds left in the game. 

Cincinnati had the lead the entire game, until the final two minutes. The Bengals went on to win their next two games, but lost the season finale.

They still made the playoffs as the sixth seed by default. 

The Houston Texans, on the other hand, have not won a game since the comeback in Cincinnati. 

The Texans have been trying to find some cohesion after their stars have been devastated by injuries this season. Houston has been piecing it together all year and now enter the playoffs against a young Bengals team full of energy. 

If the Texans want to have a chance in this game, they will rely heavily on their defense and their running game.

They are ranked third and fourth in opponent passing yards and opponent rushing yards respectively.

The Texans also average 153 yards per game on the ground between Arian Foster and Ben Tate. 

The Bengals enter with a mediocre run defense, allowing 105 yards per game.

Aside from the run game of the Texans, the Bengals have to contain Andre Johnson. He has been battling injuries all season, but can still explode for a huge day. If the Bengals limit his damage, then it will go a long way.

Cincinnati has a great young core to their team, however, and should be the more explosive team offensively on Saturday.

Andy Dalton has been terrific in his first year and has great chemistry with receivers A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson.

Dalton has thrown for 3,398 yards and 20 touchdowns in his rookie season. A.J. Green caught 65 passes for 1,057 yards in 15 games this year.

This connection will be pivotal on Saturday. If they establish a connection early, it could be a great day for the Bengals.

They have two great running backs as well that will allow things to open up for the receivers. Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott will have to have solid games so that the Bengals can keep their offensive attack balanced.

Both of these teams will be in uncharted waters. The Houston Texans have been in existence since 2002 and this is their first playoff birth. The Bengals are relying on rookies to lead the way and pick up the win in this one.

If Cincinnati can maintain their composure however and not allow themselves to become overwhelmed, then they will win this game and end a 21-year playoff winless drought.