Chad Washington, Contributor
After all of the controversy about Tom Savage taking the starting QB role, it’s going to come down to the Texans’ defense continuing its strong play to win this game. The running game will have to play big if Houston is going to keep its division title dreams alive against Cincinnati.
Savage and Brock Osweiler have said all the right things this week, but the big news is the status of Lamar Miller, who is now out with a beat-up ankle injury. So that means Alfred Blue, Akeem Hunt and Jonathan Grimes – one of them or a combination of the three – must have decent performances against a weak Bengals defense to take the pressure off of Savage.
But there will still be a little pressure on Savage. Can he be able to make some big plays downfield to either DeAndre Hopkins or Will Fuller? Or can he make the decent passes to the tight ends Ryan Griffin? Or will he become the next in the line of mediocre Texan QB who falter when the spotlight is on them? I think Tom will make one or two plays, but expect Bill O’Brien to be conservative with him and make him more of a game manager kind of quarterback.
The other big question is can the defense – namely Jadeveon Clowney – keep playing at a brisk pace and get pressure on Andy Dalton? And can the secondary keep playing well by keeping A.J. Green in check as he returns to the Cincinnati lineup. Expect Green to make one or two big plays, but I think Jeremy Hill will have a good game against a shaky run defense in Houston.
Still, the Texans are playing very well despite the quarterback mess, and I think that will continue on Saturday. The Bengals aren’t playing well, and despite getting its big-time receiver back, I think Houston’s defense will try to limit his impact and Savage does just enough to pull out a tough win to set up a winner-take-all game next week at Tennessee for the AFC Southern Division crown.
Score: Texans 23, Bengals 20