Game time: 4:30 EST, Saturday
Weather Forecast: High of 72 with scattered showers
All time series record: Tied at 3-3
Spread: Texans by -3
The last time these two teams played was in week 14, when the Bengals controlled much of the game and lost at the end thanks to a successful two minute drill from rookie QB T.J. Yates. Yates has since struggled as well as the entire Houston Texan team. I would be very worried if I were a Texan fan. The Texans have lost three straight coming into the playoffs and are facing a team that simply outplayed them for three and a half quarters the first time they met.
While the NFL is a very different from the college ranks, Andy Dalton still has a history of coming through in the clutch. He led his team to a Rose Bowl win last year against a very tough Wisconsin team. He has led the Bengals to a record breaking four comeback wins when trailing by 10 or more points at halftime. They may not need to overcome that deficit on Sunday, but this is a composure that we have not seen from the Bengals in many, many years and I think it translates to their first win in the playoffs in 21 years.
Bengals – 24, Texans – 17
No Schaub, no Johnson, no Williams, no problem? Yeah right. Give the Texans some credit from winning their division mostly without these guys. But let’s also be honest here and realize that we are crediting them for winning the worst division in the NFL. The Colts without Manning are a sorry excuse for a team, the Jaguars are pathetic, and the Titans did everything possible to play their way out of the playoff picture. Having stud running back Arian Foster healthy will keep them in this game, but I don’t think it will be enough to advance to the next round.
I expect most people to pick Houston. It’s on their home field and the Bengals did not beat a single team this year that finished above .500. So call it a hunch if you like, but I think the trio of Dalton, Benson, and A.J. Green will give the Bengals just enough to slip past the Texans.
Bengals – 24, Texans – 20
The rookie tandem of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green has been outstanding for the Bengals. But here is the potential problem; they are both rookies. The nerves will be there as it is their first playoff game, but Marvin Lewis will be able to handle it. I mean, if he can handle Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens on a team, then the playoff nerve factor is nothing!
On the other hand, you have the injury-riddled Houston Texans. The team is coming into this game in wheelchairs. They aren’t in very good shape, evident of the 3-game losing skid to end the regular season. But it is still the first playoff game in the Texans existence, as well as the first one hosted. The players will be biting at the nail to get into this game. Raw emotion will overtake this team in the playoffs. Unfortunately, that won’t be enough. T.J. Yates has surprised people and proved that he can lead a team. But here, I see the Texans coming up short.
Bengals – 27, Texans – 17
Other Previews and Predictions