Hey, didn’t we see this same game last season? Oh no, that was a little different. In that one the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals were playing a different game, one which featured a pair of young rookie quarterbacks. This one is not that one.
In the AFC Wild Card Round we’re going to see a Houston Texans team operating under Matt Schaub. Which of course you’d think would make them odds on favorites and they are if you like to play the Vegas game. But take a minute to reflect on recent weeks and I think you’ll find that Houston is going to have their work cut out for them. Their biggest obstacle won’t be the Bengals, it will be shaking off a two week funk that saw them blow the chance to earn home field advantage in the AFC. In games against the Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts the Texans found themselves floundering and unable to stop the running game of the Vikings or the passing game of the Colts.
The formula for the Texans? First, get Arian Foster going. His 1,424 yards put him second in the AFC and the threat he poses will make the passing game much easier. Secondly, make the throws, even the dicey ones, to Andre Johnson. Which means Matt Schaub will have to be on his game.
The Colts have to make things easier on Andy Dalton the same way. Establish a running game first. Just as important though will be how well the Bengals offensive line can protect Dalton when he’s forced to throw. Houston has made it’s mark with a defensive line that allows J.J. Watt to be unleashed. But the Bengals at least can go into this game with that nothing to lose mentality and a sense of confidence borne of being a rising star in the AFC.