With a loss last week against the Indianapolis Cols, the Houston Texans will have to play a week earlier then previously hoped. Sliding from the first to the third seed in the AFC, they will go against a Cincinnati Bengals team that is a younger version of themselves.
The Texans and Bengals are teams built on similar philosophies. Both teams use their respective running games to set up the pass, where they have one receiver dominate the opposing defense. Both defenses are also stout at the point of attack, penetrating at the line to take out the opposing quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. This is the philosophy that most NFL teams try to adopt as it is the recipe for continued success, although it is difficult to find the personnel.
Both teams haven’t been perfect and have struggled down the line. The Texans, after winning a crucial week 15 game against the Colts, failed to win one last game in the final two weeks, eliminating their chance of a first round bye. They were however an early Superbowl favorite as the dominated the league until late this season. The Bengals struggled early on, yet have
These last two weeks have been “madden-like” performances by the Texans, who have lacked creativity and drive. A favorite play the Texans run is the bubble screen to receiver Andre Johnson which has been over used as of late. It has effectively been shut down since first being effective against Jacksonville in week 11. Quarterback Matt Schaub has also to find other targets besides Johnson, who seems to be the only productive receiver in recent weeks. Tight end Owen Daniels was a favorite target of Schaub, but he’s been hampered by chest and knee injuries that have slowed him down. Without a receiver stepping up, the Texans could find themselves in trouble if running back Arian Foster does not consistently move the chains.
The Bengals on the other hand face their own problems. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis did not play last week against the Ravens after tweaking his hamstring in warm-up. While he is expected to play on Saturday, it may be a concern going forward as the Bengals need to set up the pass. The Bengals have used their other runninbacks on the team, but none have shown 3 down capability as Green-Ellis has. As elite of a talent receiver A.J. Green has shown this year, he needs second year Quarterback Andy Dalton to have an effective run game to set up his throws.
The game starts this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC
– Antonio Furgiuele