We have a Wild Card rematch in the AFC playoffs this year. The Cincinnati Bengals will be on the road against the Houston Texans, just like they were last year. This time around, each team has that experience from last year under their belts. So which has progressed more, and which is better right now? Here’s a look at what you can expect from the Cincinnati vs. Houston game in Wild Card weekend, along with the official predictions & odds below.
Houston was cruising throughout much of the season, storming off to a 10-1 record. However, they have lost two of their final three games to finish at 12-4, and it was enough to knock them from a likely number 1 seed, to a team without a first round bye. Still, a 12 win season is nothing to scoff at, and the team is especially strong at home. Overall, they scored 26 points per game, 8th best in the league.
And while everyone is familiar with their offensive stars, including Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, it was a player on the defensive side of the field who generated the most buzz this season. J.J. Watt played out of his mind all year long, finishing with 20.5 sacks, just two shy of tying Michael Strahan’s single season record. He also became the most proficient and effective pass deflector in league history, and was just a dominant and destructive force out there.
As for Cincinnati, second year quarterback Andy Dalton steadily guided his team to the playoffs for the second straight year, a more than rare feat for the Bengals. He would have liked to have kept his interceptions down a bit, throwing 16 on the year, but he improved greatly from last season nonetheless. He threw for more yards, with a much greater completion percentage, and more touchdowns.
His favorite target is of course the athletic A.J. Green, who caught 97 balls for 1,350 yards and 11 TDs. It’s scary to imagine what Green is going to be capable of as he continues to mature and become a better player, because he’s just off the charts physically. But the offense was greatly helped this year but the play of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who rushed for almost 1,100 yards and 6 scores.
Moving on to our official predictions & odds for Houston vs. Cincinnati, and the Texans are a 4.5 point home favorite. You can take Houston straight up at -220, or Cincinnati straight up at +180. The over/under for the game is at 43.5 points, the lowest of the weekend’s four games.
Cincinnati certainly has more momentum right now. And they have that revenge factor for last season, which should never be ignored. Ultimately though, despite recent woes, Houston is the better and more dynamic team, and has had the better season. Look for them to find their footing in this game and defeat the Bengals, and rev themselves up for another big game the following weekend.