At the beginning of the year if I had told you that the Houston Texans would finish the season 12-4 and would be the 3rd seed in the playoffs, Texans fans’ would have been ecstatic. Headed into this week’s match-up vs the Bengals though everyone is not feeling that way. Now don’t get me wrong there is plenty of reason to feel disappointed with how the season ended for Houston. Any fan would be upset with losing 3 of your last 4 games, and in fact they should be upset. Don’t let this bad taste in your mouth spoil the whole season though. A 12-4 record is very hard to come by in the NFL and its not something that is guaranteed to happen every year. Only 4 teams this year eclipsed 12-4 or better and in the NFL that is one heck of a season.
Houston just had their best season in franchise history! They started the year off 5-0 and at one point in the year were 11-1. That’s unbelievable. JJ Watt had 20.5 sacks this year, and Andre Johnson finished 2nd in the NFL in receiving yards. Arian Foster lead all running backs in TD’s and finished 6th in yards. Don’t forget this year Texans’ fans, but not only that, cherish this season. Enjoy every second you get to see this team play. This has been a special season for the Texans regardless of whether it ends with a Super Bowl or not. Remember the season that ended in the number one overall pick? Remember how bad it was and where they are now.
I had a good conversation with two of my buddies about the Texans season this year. I asked them “Who won the Super Bowl in 2006?” My guess was the Steelers although I wasn’t completely sure and one of them said the Patriots and the other didn’t know. Well we had to look up the answer to be sure and it was indeed the Steelers. I thought it was the Steelers against the Cardinals but it was the Seahawks who they beat. Anyways my point was, no one really remembers previous champions unless it was your favorite team who won or lost. If you asked a Seahawks or Steelers fan they would have been able to tell you the answer to my question without hesitation. The point is Texans’ fans will always have this season. No one can take away 12-4 or JJ Watt’s 20.5 sack season or any of the incredible memories that you have made as a fan along the way. Cherish these moments because they don’t happen every year.
Now with all of that being said its’ time to focus on the big game Saturday. The Houston Texans will host the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday at 3:30 central. This is a rematch of last year’s AFC Wild-card game and both teams are much better than last season.
The Bengals are lead by their relentless team pass rushing that ranked 3rd in the NFL with 51 sacks this year. Cincinnati does a really good job of getting after the QB with just 4 guys, Carlos Dunlap, Domata Peko, Geno Atkins, and Michael Johnson. This means they don’t have to blitz to get a sack on the QB, which also means they have more guys in coverage down field. This could be a big problem for Houston on Saturday. The Bengals defense is very good this year and very underrated. They didn’t get a lot of publicity as a team throughout the season but they are ranked 7th against the pass and 12th against the run this year. They also have a balanced offense, 17th in passing and 18th in the run. The main points on offense however, will be stopping AJ Green and Andy Dalton. AJ Green has become of the games best receivers and a match-up nightmare for opposing teams. Johnathan Joseph will have his hands full for sure this weekend. The knock on Dalton has been his inconsistency, but that can be said for any young QB. Last season was his rookie year when he played Houston in the playoffs and he didn’t fair too well in that game as he threw 3 interceptions. I think this year will be a different story for the Bengals on offense.
Houston’s keys to the game will be what they have been for the past 4 weeks. Start fast, score early, and open up the playbook. Houston needs to have Arian Foster and Schaub feed off of each other. Foster needs to run well to open up the play action for Schaub. Schaub needs to throw well to open up running lanes for Foster. The run and pass game need to work together and these last couple of weeks it seems like they have been arch enemies. Scoring early will go a long way in helping Houston’s confidence as well. The Texans just seem to play better when they score early in the game and put the other team in and early deficit. This is the playoffs now and you don’t want ot give these teams the opportunity to take the lead late and win the game because chances are they will take advantage.
Now I have gone back and forth on this game all week long and could really see it going either way. The Bengals are a scary team and in many ways remind me of the Seahawks. I think they could be a sleeper team this year in the playoffs, but I’m not a big fan of Dalton and how inconsistent he has been or their running game isn’t all that great either. Nevertheless, here are my predictions!
Schaub- 21-32 225 yards TD
Foster 25 carries 110 yards TD
Johnson 5 catches 80 yards
Defense 3 sacks 2 turnovers
Dalton 25-34 265 yards 2 TD’s
Green-Ellis 18 carries 65 yards
Green 7 catches 100 yards TD
Defense 3 sacks 2 turnovers
Houston 20 Cincinnati 17
About the Author
Written by Dustin Kelver
I am in my Sophomore year of college at Howard Payne, and I play baseball there. I live in Conroe, Texas and have been here for almost 6 years. I love sports and have played all sports competitvely at some point in my life. I want to one day have my own radio show. You can follow me on twitter @CleverKelver