Is it January of 2012 all over again? In the opening weekend of last year’s playoffs, Cincinnati traveled to Houston, and got blown out by the Texans. This year, the Bengals will have revenge on their minds as they once again travel to Texas with upsets on their minds. Despite Houston having home field, the better record, and the more talented team, the two couldn’t come in with more opposite momentum. Cincinnati ended the season by winning seven of their last eight, while Houston dropped three of their final four. Let’s take a closer look.
How Cincinnati can Win: Cincinnati is strong on both sides of the ball, but it’s been the defense that got the stripped cats to the playoffs. In the second half of the season, they held every single opponent to 20 points or under. Meanwhile, the offense scored less then 20 points just twice. That’s a pretty good combination if you are a Cincy fan. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been a great addition to this offense, and he could prove to be the biggest difference between this game and the 31-10 blowout they suffered here last year. On the defensive side, they will have their hands full with the likes of Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and Owen Daniels to deal with.
How Houston Can Win: You can’t help but feel nervous if you are a Texans fan right now. Two weeks ago, Houston looked to be a lock to have home field in the playoffs, needing just one win. However, they couldn’t beat the Vikings or the Colts, and now, they have an opening weekend game despite a 12-4 record. The defense, which was the clear reason for their hot start, has struggled immensely to close the season. The Texans allowed 27 points a game over their last seven, including a head scratching 37 points to a terrible Jacksonville offense. If the Texans want any shot of making it to the Super Bowl, the defense will need to find their strength again. JJ Watt has to be the leader, and make Andy Dalton’s life miserable all day long.
Our Prediction: Last year, Houston came into this matchup on a downward spiral, and I thought that Cincy would pull off the upset. Well I was dead wrong, and I’m not about to make the same mistake again. Despite the fact that Cincy is on fire recently, I like Houston to win this one. They clearly matchup well with the Bengals, and when you break down the rosters, these teams are virtually the same. Unlike last year, I think this will be a close one. I’m not sure whether it will be a defense struggle, or a shootout, but I think it’ll be neck and neck most the way. Have to give the Texans the slight edge, though an upset here woudn’t shock me at all. Houston hangs on to move on 27-21.
What do you think will happen? Will the Bengals pull off the upset, or will Houston hold down the fort at home? Let us know what you think in the comments!