The Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) and Houston Texans (10-6) will face off Saturday afternoon in a AFC wild card contest inside Reliant Stadium.
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
Cincinnati won two of its final three games to enter the AFC playoffs and will be seeking revenge from a 20-19 loss to the Houston Texans as 2.5-point home favorites on Dec. 11. “The defeat is in the back of our mind,” stated Bengals rookie wide receiver A.J. Green. “If we stick to our game plan, I think we have a great chance of winning the game.” The franchise’s biggest hurdle is being 0-7 against playoff teams, including getting swept by their AFC North rivals—the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Cincinnati is 5-1 ATS on the road this season.
The Bengals and Texans are meeting for the first time in the postseason, with each team winning three games during the regular-season series in six meetings. Cincinnati will need to do a much better job in the red zone in order to pull off a slight upset, ranking 26th in offense and 25th in defense inside the 20-yard line. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton is expected to be under center despite being hospitalized earlier this week due to flu-like symptoms, setting a franchise record for a rookie with 20 passing touchdowns.
Houston is making its first appearance in the AFC playoff after 10 regular seasons, which includes 201 preseason and regular season games. The Texans have overcome plenty of injuries this year to reach this particular spot due to a defense that ranks second in the league in allowing just 285.7 yards per game. The offense still deserves some respect without starting quarterback Matt Schaub, ranking 13th overall in gaining 372.1 yards per game, led by the running of Arian Foster in the backfield. Houston is 3-1 ATS versus AFC North opponents this year.
The Texans will be piloted by a rookie signal-caller as well Saturday, as former North Carolina Tar Heels star T.J. Yates will get the start. He has thrown for 949 yards and three touchdowns this season, directing two game-winning drives in the fourth quarter, including a pair of scores to overcome the Bengals last month. Houston will still rely heavily on a running game that ranked second in gaining 153.0 yards per game, as Ben Tate and Foster combined to rush for 2,166 yards.
Bettors will likely back the Texans due to their 3-0-1 ATS mark versus winning teams, while the Bengals are 0-4-1 ATS in the same situation.
Recommendation: Houston Texans -3
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