Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bengals vs. Texans: Battle of the New Blood Quarterbacks

The Bengals are going to be a popular upset pick because the Texans have lost three straight. But is anyone going to mention that the only wins Cincinnati has in the second half of the season are against the Browns, Rams, and Cardinals? How about the fact that they’ve only beaten one team above .500 all year (9-7 Tennessee)? The Bengals are a young team who has struggled against top competition, and this Saturday, they go on the road against one of the best defenses and rushing attacks in the NFL.

First we’ll take a look at the quarterback play. All I’ve been hearing this season is praise for Andy Dalton. But is it time to realize that he is just not that good yet?

Sure, leading your team to the playoffs as a rookie is great, but getting a win is a different story. I’m not saying that Dalton isn’t having an impressive season as a first year signal caller, but he’s just not as good as everyone makes him out to be.

Dalton has done a better job not turning the ball over. In the past six games, he has had only one interception. However, in those six games, he’s topped 200 yards only twice, never topping 300 yards. One of the games he did not eclipse 200 yards in was against these very same Houston Texans.

In that game, Yates was more than impressive. He led a drive all the way down the field with no timeouts that culminated with a touchdown pass to win it with only two seconds remaining. The drive included a 3rd down and 15 where Yates scrambled for 17 yards. If this game comes down to crunch time, I’m taking Yates.

And even is Yates is hurt and can’t play, is going to Jake Delhomme really that much of a downgrade?

I understand that was only one game and that Yates has not blown anyone out of the water this season, but I’m still confident in the Texans because I don’t think this game will come down to quarterback play.

Arian Foster and Cedric Benson have both had 1,000-yard seasons. The difference between the two is that Foster is way more explosive than Benson, who is more of a plodder. Foster is able to not only control the clock, but also make big plays. Expect to see Foster making plays on the ground as well as in the passing game.

For Benson, I see him struggling in this one. He had 91 yards in the first meeting between these two teams this year. I feel like the Texans’ defense will hold him to less this time around.

Speaking of the Texans defense, they have been monstrous all season both against the run and against the pass. What Wade Phillips has done for this defense has been remarkable. And while the Bengals have had a stifling defense as well, they are still without their top cornerback, Leon Hall. They sure could use Jonathan Joseph, who is, well…now on the Texans.

I give the edge to Houston on defense, as well as the overall edge in the game.

Many will be surprised by how well the Texans will play on Saturday. They will advance to play Baltimore, and should look to take a page out of San Francisco’s book and try to rely mainly on their defense and running game. If they play their cards right, they may surprise even more people.

Houston 23, Cincinnati 13

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