Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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Prediction: CIN 23, HOU 20 (Line: HOU by 4.5)

This is an interesting game since the Bengals are not only on a three game winning streak, but they are 7-1 over the final half of the season and their only loss was by one point. That includes winning their last four road games to give them a 6-2 mark away from home. The Texans were in control of the #1 seed for most of the year but have lost three of their last four games and not by small margins (28, 17 and 12 points).

The less obvious factor this week is that the Bengals defense has been playing very well. Consider over the last eight games, they have allowed 13 points per game on average and never more than 20 points to any opponent. The Texans allowed 25 points per game over that time period and three times gave up over 30 points.

This is a repeat of last year's wildcard round when the Bengals lost 10-31 in Houston. The Bengals have never won a road playoff game and have not won any playoff game in the last 21 years.

Cincinnati Bengals
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @BAL 13-44 10 NYG 31-13
2 CLE 34-27 11 @KC 28-6
3 @WAS 38-31 12 OAK 34-10
4 @JAC 27-10 13 @SD 20-13
5 MIA 13-17 14 DAL 19-20
6 @CLE 24-34 15 @PHI 34-13
7 PIT 17-24 16 @PIT 13-10
8 BYE ----- 17 BAL 23-17
9 DEN 23-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CINCINNATI Rush Catch Pass
QB Andy Dalton 10 - 220,2
RB B. Green-Ellis 60 1-10 -
TE Jermaine Gresham - 4-50,1 -
WR A.J. Green - 5-60 -
WR Marvin Jones   4-50  
WR Andrew Hawkins - 3-30,1 -
WR Brandon Tate - 2-20 -
PK Josh Brown 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: This is a big chance for the Bengals to truly take a big step that they have never taken before. Win on the road. Do that where they were crushed just one year ago. The problem last season was that the Bengals could not mount any rushing effort with Cedric Benson limited to 14 yards on seven rushes and Andy Dalton was forced to throw 42 passes. He was intercepted three times including one returned for a score in that game.

And yet going into this game, BenJarvus Green-Ellis was unable to play last week because of his hamstring and missed early practices this week. OC Jay Gruden insisted that BGE would be fine for the game and they'll need him since Cedric Peerman and Brian Leonard are a step down. Green-Ellis was on a nice run of 100+ total yards games until Pittsburgh in week 16 though those others were all against lesser defenses.

The Texans have only allowed one runner to score in Houston and that was just two weeks ago. But the last several opponents have managed to produced decent run stats against them. Vick Ballard recently posted games of 80 and 78 rush yards on the Texans and even Jalene Parmele ran for 80 yards as well. As a part of an overall downturn by the team, they have given up more rushing than earlier this year though the Bengals are not likely to run with great success no matter where.

Andy Dalton had those three interceptions that lost the game a year ago and that will weigh heavier in the game plan. He has not thrown for more than one score in the last five weeks though he has rushed in a few scores along the way. With the run game and defense able to help win games, Dalton has not been forced the throw for more than around 230 yards in the last eight games.

A.J. Green has been the primary receiver by a large margin but he only accounted for four or five receptions and never more than 59 yards in the two meetings with the Texans last year. Green's stats have really tailed off in the second half of the season thanks to the running and defense. After scoring in nine straight games. he had only one touchdown over the final six weeks and delivered under 60 yards in half of those games.

The low passing stats have brought down all receivers naturally but the rookie Marvin Jones had five catches in each of the last two games including scoring his first NFL touchdown. Jermaine Gresham was blanked last week for the first time and has not been much of a factor since around mid-season.

The Houston defense still ranks highly against the run and that is not where the Bengals are likely to have much success. They will need to play good defense and establish some passing that will be easier with the way the Texans have been playing recently. Gresham should be a key here - here was not used much in the last month or more but goes against one of the weakest teams against the position. They allowed five scores to tight ends over their last four games.

Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 14 27 7 18 8 6
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 18 1 22 30 6 10


Houston Texans
Homefield: Reliant Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 MIA 30-10 10 @CHI 13-6
2 @JAC 27-7 11 JAC 43-37
3 @DEN 31-25 12 @DET 34-31
4 TEN 38-14 13 @TEN 24-10
5 @NYJ 23-17 14 @NE 14-42
6 GB 24-42 15 IND 29-17
7 BAL 43-13 16 MIN 6-23
8 BYE ----- 17 @IND 16-28
9 BUF 21-9 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOUSTON Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Schaub - - 200,1
RB Arian Foster 80,1 2-10 -
TE Owen Daniels - 4-30,1 -
WR Andre' Johnson - 6-90 -
WR Kevin Walter - 2-20 -
WR Devier Posey - 1-20 -
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Texans were 11-1 and owned the NFL but then they played in New England where it all fell apart. Since then they beat the Colts at home and yet lost to them last week in a must win game. The Texans have declined on both sides of the ball. The defense that was stellar through week ten was exposed by the Jaguars passing attack that no one knew they even had. The Patriots made them look a college team playing in a higher division game.

What was worse is that the offense has stalled. Over the last four games, Matt Schaub has only thrown one touchdown pass against three interceptions and getting sacked 12 times. Almost the entirety of the passing effort has declined to playing pitch-and-catch with Andre Johnson who has posted excellent stats while no one else has. No one else. Even Owen Daniels has not produced more than 45 yards in any of the last six weeks. He has not scored since week 12.

This was not merely because Arian Foster had taken over and consumed most of the offensive plays. Over the last five games, he exceeded 16 carries just once which was the only time he had more than 100 rush yards. He has been held to 3.1 yards per carry in four of the last seven weeks. The offense revolves around what he gains and what Johnson adds as a receiver and very little else is happening here. In fantasy terms, they are the only two players who merit any consideration though they are obvious must-starts and among the elite of their position.

Not getting a bye is going to hurt since players like Daniels could have used the week to heal up (he has a hamstring issue). This is going to be a very competitive game that recent history says the Texans are going to be lucky to escape with a win. The Bengals defense has been outstanding in the last half of the season though many of their opponents had marginal offenses. Then again - that best describes the Texans offense right now. They have only allowed 16 passing scores all year and held almost all teams under 250 passing yards.

Foster is going to be the one that wins this game against a defense that is playing far better than their average ranking suggests. Over their last six road games, they only gave up one touchdown to a running back and since mid-season no runner has topped 100 yards against them. This should end up a defensive game where field goals are going to matter a lot.

Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 20 2 27 4 5 9
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 8 15 3 18 17 25


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