The Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans are set to square off in NFL playoff betting action this week at Reliant Stadium. But before you make your NFL picks for the big game on Saturday, check out some of the great NFL betting trends that we have for the duel!
Cincinnati Bengals Notes: It’s all about payback for the Bengals in the first week of the playoffs. Last year, they were just happy to get into the dance, but this time around, a 10-6 team that finished tied for the AFC North title wants more, starting with some revenge on the Texans for last year’s defeat in this venue in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Aside from the obvious level of experience, the difference between this year’s team and the one that was crushed by three TDs here in the Lone Star State is that this one knows how to beat some good teams. Last season, Cincinnati went winless against playoff teams and undefeated against teams that didn’t get into the second season. This year, the club went on the road and beat the Washington Redskins and knocked off fringe playoff teams like the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers in big time games, proof that Cincinnati truly has grown as a team. The Bengals enter this week having won three in a row and seven out of eight, with the lone loss coming by a single point at home to the Dallas Cowboys. The team is 7-1 ATS in those games as well.
If the Bengals are going to advance through the playoffs, they’re going to do it through their defensive line. This is probably the strongest group on the team, led by DT Geno Atkins and DE Michael Johnson, who combined for 24 sacks on the campaign. Houston has struggled with its offensive line of late, and the Bengals have to be licking their chops over that fact. Offensively speaking, there aren’t a lot of weapons, but the one that QB Andy Dalton has at his disposal of WR AJ Green is one of the best in the league. Green trailed off just a bit in the last month of the season, but he still ended the campaign with 1,350 yards and 11 scores. Dalton also had a much better second season in the league, throwing for 3,669 yards and increasing his total touchdown production from 21 to 31 this year.
The Bengals are a banged up team, especially in some crucial spots in the secondary. DB Dre Kirkpatrick is already out for the year with a concussion, and DB Terence Newman and DB Jason Allen are both listed as questionable with hamstring injuries this week. S Chris Crocker also has a strained quad, which has him listed as questionable at the outset of the week. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis tweaked his hammy against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, but he was lifted from the game as a precaution and should still be good to go on Saturday.
Houston Texans Notes: The Texans won two more games this year than they did last year, and they enter these playoffs with a relatively healthy squad, including having the access to QB Matt Schaub instead of having to play a third stringer like they did last year with QB TJ Yates. So why do Houston fans feel like gloom and doom is near when last season’s postseason was treated with such optimism? Because so much more was expected out of this team. This was a squad that was 11-1 through the first three quarters of the season, and it was basically a foregone conclusion that the club would have been the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. The Texans had three chances to lock down the top seed and blew all of them, and now, they have to face the punishment of not just playing a tough game this week, but having to go on the road next week and the following week if they want to get to the Super Bowl. Houston’s problems actually started back on November 18th against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It needed to go deep into overtime just to win that game as 15-point favorites, and it is just 2-5 ATS since then.
Schaub has really struggled of late, throwing just one touchdown pass in his last four games. He also has led the offense to just one RB Arian Foster touchdown in the last 10 quarters of play. The stats are definitely there for this team on both sides of the ball, though. Foster had over 1,500 yards of offense and 17 trips to the end zone, while WR Andre Johnson had one of his best seasons as a pro with 1,598 yards. DE JJ Watt had one of the best seasons that a defensive end has ever had on the other side of the ball, and he is going to try to make a name for himself once again in this one, just like he did last year when he had a pick six to turn the tide of the game in Houston’s favor once and for all.
The injury to watch in this one is that of LB Brooks Reed. He has missed five of the last six games, and he was largely ineffective in the one that he did play against the Minnesota Vikings. With LB Brian Cushing already on IR, the linebacker corps is thin as it is, and Houston can’t afford any further injuries. LB Tim Dobbins has a shoulder problem, while G Antoine Caldwell has a hamstring injury, and both of these men are considered questionable.
Head To Head: There have only been seven all-time meetings of these two teams, but this is going to be the third in the last 13 months. The Bengals won the first three clashes, but they haven’t won a game at Reliant Stadium since Houston’s expansion season. The Texans have won the last four meetings overall, and of course, the most notable of the bunch came in last season’s playoffs when the Texans won their first ever playoff game in franchise history 31-10.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.