#102 Cincinnati Bengalsvs.#101 Houston Texans
Written by Benjamin Hayes
Houston Texans (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS, 0-1 O/U) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS, 0-1 O/U)
When and Where: Thursday, Sept. 14, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Oh., 8:30pmET
Line: Cincinnati -3
The Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals both opened the seasons with disappointing home losses. The Texans fell at home to Jacksonville, 29-7, while the Bengals were shut out at home against their division rival Baltimore Ravens, 20-0. Both teams need to bounce back after horrific home performances but have just a few days to turn it around. Last season, the Texans edged the Bengals at home, 12-10.
Tom Savage was expected to hold the fort at quarterback before rookie Deshaun Watson was ready to start at quarterback. But Savage was harassed by Jacksonville in the first half, getting sacked six times and had two fumbles, one that resulted in a return for a touchdown. Houston’s offense was pathetic so they turned to the more mobile Jackson, who completed 12 of 22 for 102 yards with one TD and one pick. The bottom line is that the Texans were horrible on both sides of the ball. Their offensive line gave up an incredible 10 sacks, including four from DL Calais Campbell.
Their defense couldn’t stop the run as they allowed rookie running back Leonard Fournette to rush for 100 yards on 26 carries and 155 yards overall. They also had no sacks against Blake Bortles and forced zero turnovers. It’s possible that the Texans had no juice after dealing with Hurricane Harvey and attempting to help the victims, while tending to their families.
Dalton is certainly capable of playing a lot better than Tom Savage. At least he has a track record. Last season, he threw for 4,206 yards with 18 TDs and just eight picks. But against a rejuvenated Baltimore defense, he threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball. He completed 16 of 31 for 170 yards but couldn’t finish drives and missed open receivers. That’s not Dalton-like and it’s probably too early to consider backup quarterback A.J. McCarron, who saw some time last year when Dalton was injured. The Bengals also had just 77 yards on 22 carries against a tough Baltimore defense. Giovani Bernard led the Bengals with seven carries for 40 yards, but rookie Joe Mixon disappointed with just nine yards on eight carries.
The defense played well enough against the Ravens, who went completely conservative in the second half after going up 17-0 at the half. They held the Ravens to just 268 total yards but allowed them to run for 157 yards to keep the clock moving on long drives. Linebacker Vincent Rey led the Bengals with 11 tackles, while DT Geno Atkins added seven tackles and a sack.
The Bengals were atrocious in Game 1 but were missing defensive stalwards Vontez Burfict and Adam Jones due to suspensions. “Pac Man” will be back after missing the first game but Burfict is still out. That should help. J.J. Watt is also playing with a dislocated finger. Dalton should also bounce back against a defense that has to be questioning themselves right now. Cincy has too many weapons to be this underwhelming.
Watson should get the start here, which means the Bengals will put the pressure on against a rookie quarterback and one of the worst offensive lines in football. Cincinnati’s line isn’t much better and there’s the issue about picking an over. It’s just tough right now when offensive line play is bad and that’s unfortunately permeating the NFL right now.
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Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!