Four weeks ago, this matchup would have looked extremely lopsided.
Throughout the early part of the season, it looked like the Houston Texans were ready to make that next step on the road to Super Bowl contention. Coming into Week 14 Matt Schaub and Co. were 11-1 with their lone loss to the Green Bay Packers long behind them.
Over the last four weeks of the season, the Texans have looked like a completely different team.
Houston went 1-3 during the final stretch of the season when most teams are trying to prepare for the final push to postseason glory. Even the 29-17 win over AFC South rival Indianapolis was avenged by Andrew Luck when the Colts finished out the season with a 28-16 win.
After looking unbeatable for much of the season, the Texans look very beatable as they welcome the young Bengals to Houston on Saturday.
The Bengals, on the other hand, are peaking at just the right time.
Much like last season's Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Bengals haven't always looked pretty this season, a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season made the playoffs seemed out of reach. Especially with losses to the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins included in the streak.
However, Cincinnati has come through when it mattered most. They will take a three-game winning streak into the playoffs and have won seven of their last eight games.
The Texans are the No. 3 seed in the AFC because they played better football over the course of the season, however, the Bengals are the team playing better at this point.
Outside of momentum, the Bengals match up quite well against the Texans.
The key to stopping the Houston is by eliminating the run game on defense and successfully challenging the secondary on offense.
In the Texans four losses this season the team didn't have a single 100-yard rusher. The Bengals haven't allowed a rusher to get to 100 yards since Week 7 against the Steelers. That includes games against DeMarco Murray, Willis McGahee and Jamaal Charles.
Led by defensive tackle Geno Smith, this front seven is more than capable of slowing down Arian Foster and Ben Tate, which has spelled doom for the Texans.
On offense, the Bengals boast one of the best deep-threat receivers in the game with A.J. Green and have worked Jermaine Gresham more efficiently as the season progresses.
With playmakers on both sides of the ball and a strong finish to the season that has fueled an improbably run to the playoffs, the young Bengals are a dangerous team moving forward. The Texans are officially on upset alert.
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