The Bengals have performed (arguably) as the best defense in the NFL over the last 7 weeks. Their defensive strength is the Texans’ offensive weakness. The Texans need to do something atypical to avoid being pummeled on the right side of the line. The best plan would be (something like) a no huddle offense to keep the entire Bengals defense on their heels. This would prevent Mike Zimmer from calling in plays; especially on pass plays. Speaking of pass, Matt Schaub MUST be able to look for his secondary receivers. As long as the defense can focus on Schaub’s eyes and throwing motion, he will be throwing into double coverage and attempting to thread the needle – too much risk. Defensive backs are leaving their man and zone coverage once Schaub commits to his receiver. The Colts weren’t as effective as the Vikings or the Patriots but expect effective coverage by the Bengals.
The special teams and defense are almost analogous when you think about what they need to accomplish Saturday. IF you take the "big plays" out of their 4-loss repertoire, they would be the top defense in the NFL. To survive in the playoffs, the Defense and special teams need to prevent the big play touchdowns. Keep the kick-off and punt returns in a respectable field position for the defense to do their job successfully. Expect the defense to stop the run but they need to limit the time of possession of the Bengals or the secondary is toast.
Lastly, THE PLAYOFFS HAVE BEGUN! The Bengals may be hot right now, but the Texans have more veteran leadership on their side of the ball. The veteran experience is a good head start in preparation for the staunch hitting at every position in the playoffs. Also – the veterans need to drive for additional focus from the rest of the team. Focus prevents missed assignments and penalties. IF there’s no MA’s and penalties – Texans’ offensive drives are scores and defensive stances are stops.
The Texans need to take it up 2 notches to win this game; which is definitely possible. Don’t expect Kubiak to do anything atypical on the offensive side of the ball but if he does, what a nice surprise it will be. My prediction from last week was that Matt Schaub would need a QB rating of 100 to win the game. It was 66 and they got their butt kicked. My prediction for this week is that –IF the Texans win- it will be because the defense and the special teams will bend – not break and the veterans step up. IF those things happen AND Schaub has a QB rating above 100 – they WILL dominate. But – we all know about "if’s" don’t we? IF my aunt had peanuts, she'd be my uncle.