The Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans are set to square off in Wild Card 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: The Bengals made it to the playoffs this year in spite of the fact that they really faced every sort of adversity that you could run up against. No one really believed that this team was legit, and there are still a ton of naysayers. After they lost to the Baltimore Ravens last week, they basically needed everything to go exactly right to get into the playoffs, and had any result really changed, the season would already be over with. That being said, this coaching staff, led by Head Coach Marvin Lewis, did a fantastic job this year with a rookie quarterback, a rookie top receiver, and a young defense that was atrocious at times last season. The good news this year is that the Bengals really did what they were supposed to do against the bad teams in the league. They went 9-0 SU and 7-1-1 ATS against non-playoff teams. The bad news is that they were no match for a number of the playoff teams out there. They went 0-7 SU and 1-5-1 ATS in those seven games. If there is good news, it is that Cincinnati is 6-1-2 ATS in its last nine road games. The bad news is that it closed out the regular season at just 1-5-2 ATS in its last eight overall.
QB Andy Dalton probably never expected to be thrown into this situation as a starting quarterback right from the start of the season, but he played a heck of a lot better this year than a lot of the other lousy starting quarterbacks that the league has to offer. Dalton threw for 3,398 yards and 20 TDs against 13 INTs this year, and he really hasn’t had any of those major rookie blowout games that just make you shake your head. He has stayed on an even keel all season long, and he has built a great rapport with fellow rookie WR AJ Green, who had 65 receptions for 1,057 yards and seven TDs on the campaign. This is a huge spot for these two rooks to prove that they have what it takes to take on the best teams in the game.
Dalton is battling the flu bug, but there is no way that he is going to miss the game come Saturday. Aside from that though, this is a relatively healthy team. S Taylor Mays has a hamstring issue that sidelined him last week against Baltimore and may do so again this weekend, but aside from that, only really the injury to WR Andre Caldwell’s groin that landed him on IR is notable.
Houston Texans Notes: Head Coach Gary Kubiak knew that his job was on the line this year. He had to get the Texans into the playoffs, especially in a season in which QB Peyton Manning didn’t play for the Indianapolis Colts. The team started off the year at just 3-3 and went on a great seven game run, including a win against these Bengals four weeks ago that ultimately clinched a playoff spot for the team. It is the first time that the team has been here in the playoffs in team history, and when the banner goes up at Reliant Stadium, it will be the first time that the team has won a division title as well. That being said, the Texans are limping into the postseason on a three-game losing streak, and all three losses came against teams that aren’t going to be in the playoffs.
The Houston offense really boils down to how well the ball moves on the ground. Sure, the first time that these two teams met, Yates threw for 300 yards for the first, and what might ultimately be the only time in his entire career. If RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate don’t keep the ball moving on the ground though, the Texans’ first playoff run is going to be a short one. Tate, in essentially his rookie year after missing all of his first professional year with an ACL injury, rushed for 942 yards and four TDs. Foster missed basically four full games this year with a hamstring injury (and rest in Week 17), and he still ended the campaign with 1,224 yards on the ground and another 617 as a receiver. He had 12 TDs in just 13 total games.
The injury report for the Texans has been brutal all season long. Obviously, QBs Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart aren’t playing with their various injuries, and LB Mario Williams has been out of the lineup since the beginning of October with a torn pectoral muscle that prematurely ended his season. S Dominique Barber has a foot injury that landed him on IR in October, while P Brett Hartmann has a knee injury that ended his season a few weeks ago as well. QB TJ Yates missed most of last week’s game with a shoulder injury, an injury that probably won’t keep him out of this one, and though WR Andre Johnson did finally come back to the lineup last week, his hamstring still has him listed on the injury report as questionable. Starting OL Mike Brisiel has a leg injury that has caused him to miss a few games as well, and he is hoping to be back in the lineup for this one. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips missed two weeks after some surgery, and last week, he was up in the press box calling plays. He hopes to get back down on the field this week for the Texans’ first ever playoff game.
Head To Head: Houston did a fantastic job this year going into Cincinnati and beating the Bengals on Yates’ TD pass to WR Kevin Walter with just two ticks left on the clock. It was the third win in the last four seasons for the Texans over the Bengals, and two of those three wins came at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals have only visited Houston twice since the Texans have been in existence, posting a victory in the team’s expansion year in 2002 and getting blown away 35-6 in 2008. These two teams are both 3-3 SU, but Houston holds a slender 4-2 ATS lead in the series. The last time the Bengals won a playoff game was in 1991, a game that came against none other than the Houston Oilers.
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.