Houston @ Cincinnati
These are two teams going in opposite directions currently, as the Texans continue to push forward with wins even though they lost their top two quarterbacks due to injury. TJ Yates actually looked like a serviceable veteran rather than a third string rookie, as he made a few timely throws and kept on handing off to Arian Foster, which is all you have to do with this incarnation of the Texans. For Andy Dalton and the Bengals, they’ve lost 3 of their last 4 during what’s been the toughest stretch of their schedule, exposing the fact that while they’ve much better than last year, they still have some work to do in order to be serious contenders.
Both squads will try to rely mostly on their running games, the short passing game, and their defenses to carry the day. The Texans and Bengals both have stout defenses (ranked 2nd
respectively) and have excelled in the short passing game; the big difference in this game will come down to Arian Foster vs. Cedric Benson, which isn’t a fair fight. Foster is explosive, as he makes plays in both the running and the passing game; Benson is well… boring. Foster is so good that the Texans aren’t worried about going into the playoffs with Yates at QB, because the quarterback isn’t expected to do more than pass just enough to keep the defenses honest. Yates showed he was good enough for that, as he didn’t play the whole game and still threw for around 190 yards and a score. Unfortunately for Yates, Andre Johnson hurt his other hamstring and will now be out for two weeks, which doesn’t help his prospects in a tough matchup.
Andy Dalton on the other hand has all his weapons at his disposal, as both AJ Green and Jermaine Gresham are healthy and talented enough to cause some problems against the Texans secondary. Dalton likes to take at least one or two shots down the field to Green, and he trusts his fellow rookie enough to put the ball up and let him go make a play. When the Bengals get down in the red zone and need to throw for a score, Dalton has looked Gresham’s way more frequently, so look for Gresham to score once here to go along with his normal 4-5 catches for 30-50 yards.
RB Arian Foster, WR AJ Green, TE Jermaine Gresham
Middle of the Road
: TE Owen Daniels, QB Andy Dalton
QB TJ Yates, RB Ben Tate, WR Jacoby Jones, RB Cedric Benson, WR Jerome Simpson