HOUSTON TEXANS (0-1)
at CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-1)
Paul Brown Stadium Ė Cincinnati, OH
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET
Line: Cincinnati -3.0, Total: 38.5
Both the Texans and the Bengals will be hoping to avoid 0-2 starts when the teams meet in Cincinnati for Thursday Night Football.
The first week of the season didnít go as planned for Houston and Cincinnati, as both teams were absolutely blown out in their home openers. The Texans hosted the Jaguars in their Sunday game, losing 29-7 as six-point favorites. The Bengals, meanwhile, lost 20-0 as 2.5-point favorites against the Ravens. Both of these teams have playoff aspirations this season, but an 0-2 start can really be tough to overcome. That means that both of these teams will be playing with some serious intensity on Thursday, so donít expect this to be like your average lousy weekday game. When these teams met last year, Houston came away with the 12-10 victory as a three-point home favorite. The Texans have actually dominated this head-to-head series over the years, as they are 2-0 SU (1-1 ATS) against the Bengals over the past three seasons and 3-2 SU (4-1 ATS) against them since entering the league as an expansion team. One trend that does, however, favor the Bengals is the fact that they are facing a Texans team that is a miserable 10-19 ATS as an underdog under head coach Bill OíBrien.
The Texans looked miserable against the Jaguars last week, but there is some reason for hope heading into this meeting with the Bengals. The biggest one would be that QB Deshaun Watson will be under center in this one. Tom Savage got the start against Jacksonville in Week 1, but he was atrocious in the first half. The team had originally hoped that he would start at least half of the season for them, but Bill OíBrien decided that enough was enough. Watson then came in and threw for 102 yards with a touchdown and one pick. He added 16 rushing yards as well. Last week, the Bengals struggled to contain the Ravensí rushing attack. That is good news for Houston, as the team can hit Cincinnati with a heavy dose of both Watson and RB Lamar Miller out of the backfield. That doesnít mean that the team should neglect the pass, though. The Texans would be wise to get WR DeAndre Hopkins involved as much as they can. On defense, Houston will be hoping that DEs J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney can get some pressure on Andy Dalton. The most important player in this one could, however, be CB Kevin Johnson. Johnson will be tasked with stopping A.J. Green in this one, and the Texans will be blown out if Green has one of his signature huge performances.
The Bengals were embarrassed in their home opener and nobody on the team played worse than QB Andy Dalton. Dalton was just 16-for-31 for 170 yards with no touchdowns and a ridiculous four interceptions. The Bengals will need a lot better from him moving forward, but especially in this game. Itís hard to imagine Cincinnati winning with Dalton throwing for fewer than two touchdowns in this contest, but the team also needs Dalton to be more careful with the ball. If he commits multiple turnovers once again then he will be dooming his team here. One thing heíd be wise to do in this one is target WR A.J. Green more. Green had five catches for 74 yards against the Ravens and will likely need to do even more in this one. Dalton looked in his direction 10 times, but itís certainly possible thatís not enough. The Bengals also need to get rookie RB Joe Mixon more touches. Cincinnati wants to feed other backs, but Mixon is the most talented on the team. Easing him in might not be the best thing for this Bengals squad, as he is ready to make big plays and can easily jolt this offense.