For the second consecutive season, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans will meet in the wildcard round in the AFC playoffs. Last year’s game resulted in the Texans defeating the young Bengals by the score of 31-10. This season could be a totally different story.
The Bengals’ regular season record (10-6) is one game better than it was last season. The one thing that is even better is the way that they ended this season. Cincinnati finished the regular season winning seven of their last eight games, and had winning steaks of at least three games three times this season.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green are one of the best quarterback-receiver tandems in the league. This connection just might give the Texans’ defense fits this coming Saturday.
What might cause an even bigger fit is Cincinnati’s defense against Houston’s struggling offense. The Bengals ranked sixth in the league in overall defense, and seventh in pass defense.
The Texans, on the other hand, have slumped late in the regular season, losing three of their last four games by an average of 19 points. Running back Arian Foster is the sixth-leading rusher in the NFL, but hasn’t been getting any help from the passing game.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has only one touchdown pass and three interceptions to go along with it in the last four regular-season games. In addition, Schaub has been sacked 12 times in that span. In comparison, the Houston’s quarterback has been sacked a total of 15 times in the first 12 games of the season.
At one point, the Texans were arguably the best team in the league. Now Houston has gone from being Super Bowl favorites to a potential one-and-done team.
This may sound cliché, but the NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint. The Texans seemed to have come out of the starting blocks too quickly at the start of the season, and are now feeling the fatigue of the 16-game regular season.
As for the Bengals, they paced themselves from the start of the race, and are now finding themselves getting closer and closer to the front of the pack.
Prediction: Bengals 17, Texans 14
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