Keys to the Game – Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans 1/7/12

Last Updated: January 7th, 2012 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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The Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans probably make for tremendously strange bedmates in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday afternoon. Both have had the best seasons that they have had in years, and one will get to move through to the second round of the playoffs next weekend. Check out our Texans vs. Bengals odds, predictions, and keys to the game so you can make your NFL picks on all of the action!

NFL Playoffs Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans
Bengals vs. Texans Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX
Bengals vs. Texans Date/Time: Saturday, January 7th, 4:30 p.m.
Bengals vs. Texans Television Coverage: NBC

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Key #1: These two teams have to pretend like they have been here before
To say that there isn’t a heck of a lot of experience on either side of the ball in terms of the playoffs is a bit of an understatement. The Texans have never been to a playoff game in franchise history, and the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since before the Oilers had ever thought about moving out of Houston. Neither rookie quarterback has played in a game quite like this one, though QB Andy Dalton did get a taste of the action last week against the Baltimore Ravens at home in a game that the Bengals were beaten in. QB TJ Yates has really been thrown into the fire this year, as two months ago, he still had never even suited for his first NFL game before injuries struck. Neither of these coaches, Gary Kubiak nor Marvin Lewis has ever won a playoff game as a head coach before either. The team that can successfully put aside the fears of playing in a nationally televised game like this one is going to be the one that ends up having the better shot to win this game when it is all said and done with.

Bengals @ Texans Odds at Wager Web Sportsbook
Cincinnati Bengals +3
Houston Texans -3
Over/Under 38.5
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Key #2: The ground game is key for both squads
We’ve already spoken about these rookie quarterbacks, and that obviously means that the running game is going to be crucial for both sides. RBs Ben Tate and Arian Foster combined for well over 2,100 rushing yards, and they near had 3,000 total yards between rushing and receiving between them. RB Cedric Benson doesn’t nearly get the publicity that he should, but he rushed for 1,067 yards this season, his third straight 1,000+ yard season with the Bengals. Both offensive lines have had their questions, especially with the Bengals. Benson did only average 3.9 yards per carry this year, and now, he has to run up against a defensive front seven that was amongst the most ferocious against the run all season long. Houston does have the best offensive line that it has had in team history, but that line still has never been in a moment like this one.


Key #3: Houston needs to overcome all of its injuries that it has suffered all season long
The list of injuries this season for the Texans has been borderline insane. Schaub and Leinart were knocked out for the season in successive weeks, and that came after Foster missed basically three full games, LB Mario Williams hasn’t played since the beginning of October, and WR Andre Johnson has only been in the lineup for a total of about five full games all year after dealing with hamstring injuries. P Brett Hartmann is out for the year with a knee injury, and DB Danieal Manning missed a month with a leg injury as well. It is amazing that this team has been able to hold it together in spite of all of this, and now, the pieces of the puzzle that have to limp onto the field have to find a way to get the job done even with all of the setbacks.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Saturday, January 7th, 2012 @ 10:35 am (EST)
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