Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals kick off the playoffs as they meet in Reliant Stadium in Houston. The Texans are -3 point favorites over the Bengals with an over/under point total set at 38.5.
The Houston Texans have overcome more than any other team in the NFL suffering injuries at every major position at some point during the season but they got past them and won the AFC South. Though the Texans had the best record in the AFC with just a few weeks left in the regular season, three straight losses to close out the year have them playing in the first round, the first playoff appearance in franchise history. Four different players have played QB for the Texans and recently it has been T.J. Yates who was a four year starter in college and has looked less like an NFL rookie but last week against Tennessee he separated his shoulder and was forced to leave the game though all reports are he will be starting here. In the action he saw this year Yates completed 61.2 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Arian Foster missed action earlier this season but still managed to gain 1,224 yards and scored 10 touchdowns and Ben Tate averaged 5.4 yards per carry for 942 yards and four touchdowns. Andre Johnson missed most of the season with injuries so his numbers are low but he is back just in time playing last week and it’s been Owen Daniels with 54 catches and Kevin Walter with 39 catches though Foster gets a lot of short passes coming out of the backfield. The big improvement for the Texans came on defense where they were second in the NFL in yards allowed per game with 285.7 and allowing 17.4 points while snatching 17 interceptions, recovering 13 fumbles, and sacking the QB 44 times. Brian Cushing had 114 tackles, Glover Quin had 77 tackles, and Connor Barwin has11.5 sacks. It should be a raucous crowd for this one that is the first of what they hope are many playoff performances.
The Cincinnati Bengals controlled their own destiny in the final week of the NFL season but instead of getting the win and taking matters into their own hands, Marvin Lewis’ team were shredded by Ray Rice and the Baltimore Ravens and backed into the playoffs. Of course every playoff spot is earned over the course of the year but the Bengals had hoped to at least enter the post season with some sort of positive momentum as opposed to watching Rice rip off huge runs against them. Andy Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs in his rookie year and while his numbers won’t wow anyone they were enough to get it done as he completed 58.1 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions but he still tends to overthrow his receivers. Cedric Benson averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and gained 1,067 yards with six touchdowns. A.J. Green showed he was well worth the early draft pick with 65 catches and seven touchdowns, Jermaine Gresham had 56 catches and six touchdowns, and Jerome Simpson had 50 catches and four touchdowns. Defensively the Bengals allowed 316.3 yards per game and 20.2 points while they had 10 interceptions, 18 fumble recoveries, and 45 sacks. Thomas Howard had 99 tackles, Rey Maualuga had 88 tackles despite missing action, and Reggie Nelson had a nice comeback year with 85 tackles and four interceptions. Cincinnati was a better team on the road this year than they were at home and they look to make that work for them once again.
Houston is 3-0-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record, 5-2-2 against the spread in their last nine home games, and 6-2-2 against the spread in their last 10 games overall. Cincinnati is 6-1-2 against the spread in their last nine road games, 1-5-2 against the spread in their last eight games overall, and 0-4-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record. The Texans have covered in the last four meetings of these two.
These two just meet three weeks ago in Cincinnati with Houston getting a comeback win in a 20-19 contest. The total opened right at the score of last game, 39, and it dropped a half of a point from there and with these two defenses I can see it staying close to that number but I still see it staying under.