Wild Card Weekend: Cincinnati Bengals At Houston Texans
- QuarterbackThe Bengals closed out the season with seven wins in their last eight games and that earned them a rematch with the team that defeated them in last year’s playoffs. Andy Dalton has had two solid years and has size, arm strength and a quick release. Dalton completed 62.2 percent of his passes this season and has a 26-16 TD-interception ratio.Matt Schaub is under serious pressure as the Texans struggled down the stretch by losing three of their last four games. Schaub has good season-long numbers – he completed 64.2 percent of his passes and has a 22-10 TD-interception ratio – but his play has been lifeless over the last month of the season and he must turn it around.
- OffenseThe Bengals have a couple of big-play threats at the wide receiver position in A.J. Green and Andrew Hawkins. Green is a remarkable athlete who caught 97 passes for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns. Hawkins has the speed and quickness to cause havoc. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a solid runner who can finish his runs and keep drives alive.Running back Arian Foster is one of the top three running backs in the league and he has to be at his best if the Texans are going to reverse their recent trends. Foster can run inside and bowl over tacklers and also get to the outside. Andre Johnson caught 100 passes for 1,457 yards but had just four touchdowns. Johnson needs to find a way to get in the endzone.
- DefenseThe Bengals have one of the best defensive fronts in football. Not only can they shut down the interior run, they can put pressure on opposing passers. Geno Atkins had a remarkable season at the defensive tackle position with 53 tackles, 12.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap (6.0 sacks) is a sensational athlete who had an interception return for a touchdown against the Ravens in Week !7.The Texans ranked 9th overall on defense, but they were 15th against the pass. They have been vulnerable against the pass in recent weeks and they will need to turn it around in order to have a chance in the postseason. Defensive end J.J. Watt finished the year with 20.5 sacks and 16 passes defensed. Strong safety Glover Quin led the team with 84 tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Bengals have solid special teams and the presence of Adam Jones gives them a legitimate threat as a punt returner. Placekicker Josh Brown has been quite solid as a fill-in for Mike Nugent, making 11-of-12 field goal attempts in four games. Kevin Huber has averaged 46.6 yards per punt.Even when the Texans were playing well, their special teams were letting them down. They gave up their third return for a score in their Week 17 loss to the Colts. Shayne Graham has had a decent year, connecting on 31-of-38 field goal attempts.
The Bengals would like to get revenge against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs. While the Texans have homefield advantage, the Bengals have momentum and the ability to make big plays on offense and defense. It seems like the fire has gone out under the Texans and it will be difficult to relight the pilot.