Finally! Saturday afternoon marks the return of playoff football. Win or go home. How can you hate that?
The Houston Texans will host the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round for the second straight year. Houston won the first meeting last year by a score of 31-10. And that was without starting quarterback Matt Schaub. So, one would assume that the Texans will once again roll past these cats.
I, however, do not. Here’s why:
Cincinnati has a very good chance to come into Houston and knock off the Texans. One team (Cincinnati) has a ton of momentum heading into the postseason, while the other (Houston) is slumping. The Bengals have won seven of their last eight games heading into this contest, including a make or break battle against their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Houston, meanwhile, has lost three of their final four games after being routed by the New England Patriots back in Week 14. While the Texans know that they can win, the Bengals have been winning. Momentum is a huge factor, especially going into the playoffs.
I really don’t understand why, but the Bengals defense still isn’t getting the recognition it deserves. They finished 2012 as the number 6th ranked defense and their 51 sacks on the year fall behind only the Denver Broncos and St. Louis Rams. The Bengals will dial in on Pro Bowl runner Arian Foster, or at least they should. Their pass defense is very good, ranking seventh in football. This pass defense hasn’t allowed an opposing quarterback to throw for 300 yards since Week 2. They also haven’t allowed 100 yards on the ground since Week 11. My next contributing factor will make this defense seem even more enticing.
Texans Recent Offensive Struggles
Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Texans once appeared to be the clear-cut, best team in all of football. But lately, their offense in particular, has struggled quite a bit. Matt Schaub has been awful during the bad stretch of games, throwing just one touchdown and three interceptions. Not exactly an ideal way to enter your first playoff start. Take a look back at the Texans Week 16 loss against the Minnesota Vikings, shall we? Houston’s offense went one for eleven on third downs. Okay, that’s not good. However, those aren’t the alarming numbers. During that contest, Houston’s offense was held out of the end zone from one-yard line … twice! With guys like Foster, Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson, that simply cannot happen. If the offense doesn’t get back in sync, the Bengals will flourish on Saturday.
So, in case you aren’t aware, I like the Bengals to pull out the victory in Houston.
Prediction: Bengals 27, Texans 20.