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NFL Cincinnati BengalsHouston Texans

Bengals vs Texans 2013 NFL Playoff Preview

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Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

(10-6) #6 seed Cincinnati Bengals at #3 seed Houston Texans (12-4)

The Bengals are a very impressive 6-2 on the road (no team had a better road record) while the Texans are 6-2 at home.

Incredible to see that the Houston Texans are in action this weekend. They were the #1 seed in the AFC going into week 17, but their loss to the Indianapolis Colts finished off their 1-3 limp to the finish line. The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos went a combined 7-1 over that same span and they caught/passed the Texans.

The Bengals have made the playoffs for back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1981-1982.

These two teams played in the playoffs last year, and that game was also at Reliant Stadium. A 7-7 game after one quarter became a 31-10 beat-down as the Texans dominated the second half. The second half was 14-0 for Houston as they closed out their first ever (and only) playoff victory.

Houston is 3-0 all-time vs Cincy. Matt Schaub has been the winning quarterback each time.

These teams are actually pretty evenly matched in a lot of areas. Each team is tied for fifth most trips into the red-zone per game (3.6 red-zone trips per game for each team). Both teams are very good at getting off the field on 3rd down defense (Cincy allows just 36% conversion, while the Texans allow just 33%).

The Bengals turnover ratio is +4, while the Texans are at +12.

This slideshow article will take a look at this match-up, and hopefully provide you with some tidbits on this game which will kick-off the playoffs.

@craigballard77

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Bengals Passing Game

Bengals Passing Game
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Andy Dalton has been in the playoffs in both of his seasons (under-the- radar accomplishment). On the road in 2012 he is at 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Despite Cincy going 4-1 in December, Dalton had just four touchdowns and five interceptions.

A.J. Green is Dalton's BFF. He has been targeted 164 times this season which is tops on the Bengals (by far) and is fifth most in the NFL. He has 97 catches (7th best in NFL) and 11 touchdowns (tied for 4th best in the NFL...but he has just one in his last six games).

Green has made the Pro Bowl again, and he has a whopping 58 catches for 854 yards on the road (with six road touchdowns).

Dalton will look for wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, and tight end Jermaine Gresham on 3rd down plays.

This could be a big game for Dalton and the passing game. Houston has allowed a massive amount of 29 passing touchdowns this season. The Texans have just seven interceptions at home, and are #16 overall vs the pass.

Dalton was sacked 23 times at home, and 23 times on the road. Texans star J.J. Watt has 10.5 of his 20.5 sacks at Reliant Stadium.

@craigballard77

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Bengals Running Game

Bengals Running Game
Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is dealing with a hamstring issue which kept him out of week 17, but he did rush for a career-high 1,094 this season. He averages just 3.7 yards per carry on the road, but four of his six touchdowns have come on the road.

The first two months of the season BJGE was averaging a measly 3.4 yards per carry (two touchdowns), but in the last two months he averaged 4.3 yards per carry (four touchdowns).

Green-Ellis went his entire career with zero fumbles, but he had three (two were recovered by the opposing team) this season (all on the road, but all way back in September).

The Texans yield just 4.0 yards per carry (tied for 7th best in the NFL) and have allowed a measly five rushing touchdowns this season (tied with the Denver Broncos for the fewest rushing touchdowns allowed in the NFL).

The Texans faced a 1,000+ yard rusher seven times in 2012. The first was Chris Johnson who romped for 141 yards, but the six after that (including round II vs Johnson) did not even get close to 100 (the list includes top rushers like Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson).

When Green-Ellis needs a breather we are likely to see Cedric Peerman. His best moments in 2012 came on the road.

@craigballard77

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Texans Rushing Attack

Texans Rushing Attack
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Arian Foster romped for 153 yards on 24 carries, and a pair of touchdowns in last years playoff game vs Cincy. He had 1,424 rushing yards in 2012 (#6 in NFL) and he had 78 rushing 1st downs (#4 in the NFL). Foster took it to the house a whopping 15 times which was tops in the NFL.

Foster averages just 3.8 yards per carry at home, and the Bengals allow just 4.1 yards per carry on the season (11th best in NFL) and also just 4.1 on the road. The Bengals have allowed 13 rushing touchdowns.

Lately we have seen more from Ben Tate than from Justin Forsett, but Forsett is the teams #2 rusher.

On the season only three teams run more per game than Houston, but their struggles to score recently has put the emphasis on the passing game more and more as the Texans have been playing from behind lately.

The Texans were rushing for a lot of 1st downs. They were a top-5 unit for that, but the last three weeks they are averaging just 4 rushing 1st downs per game. The last time the Texans played at home they had a putrid one rushing 1st down (yikes).

Lately only a few defenses have been better vs the run than Cincy. The Texans are struggling on offense, and if Cincy can find a way to disrupt the Texans bread and butter running game then the Bengals will be set up to get the upset.

@craigballard77

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Texans Passing Attack

Texans Passing Attack
Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Schaub is 3-0 in his career vs the Bengals. He has seven touchdowns and just one interception vs them. His 135.2 quarterback rating vs Cincy is his best vs any team.

The Texans passing game is scuffling. Schaub has as many touchdown passes in his last 11 quarters of play as you or I have, which is to say - zero. Prior to that he had been very good at Reliant Stadium with 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions. His quarterback rating is 101.7 QB at home.

Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels have each been targeted over 100 times this season. With all the video game seasons that NFLers had in 2012 (records in peril all over the place) I find that Johnson's 2012 went under-the-radar. His 1,598 receiving yards was a career-high, and the second most in the NFL this season. His issue was that he had a measly four touchdowns which is all the way down at #57 in the NFL.

Johnson had a massive 975 receiving yards at Reliant Stadium which would have had him in the top-24 just based on his home production alone.

Cincy can apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks, especially on the road. Their defensive-line is awesome, and deep. Geno Atkins has 8.5 of his 12.5 sacks on the road, and Michael Johnson has 5.0 of his 11.0 sacks on the road.

Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry also drop opposing quarterbacks. They have a combined 12.5 sacks this season, and 7.0 of those came on the road.

Schaub was sacked just 27 times this season, but the majority of those came at home (17).

A #RML issue in this game will be the fact that the Texans passing attack is looking to regain their form, while the Bengals pass-rush will surely make that difficult.

@craigballard77

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Bengals at Texans...AFC Playoffs

Bengals at Texans...AFC Playoffs
Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

I will take the Bengals to pull off this upset. The Texans have been unrecognizable lately, and Mike Zimmer's defense is not the cure for what ails you (they have been especially good on the road).

The last time the Bengals won a playoff game was 1990 vs the Houston Oilers. They have never won a playoff game on the road, but Saturday will be their first.

If Cincy wins then they head to Mile High Stadium next week to take on the Denver Broncos. If the Texans win they will head to Gillette Stadium to play the New England Patriots.

Thank you for reading my work, much appreciated! I am honored to be the 2013 NFL Playoffs Insider for Rant Sports. All playoffs long I will have game preview's and other articles pertaining to the playoffs so I hope you will check out my work further.

For the Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens preview CLICK HERE

For the Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers preview CLICK HERE

For the Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins preview CLICK HERE

@craigballard77