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Three And Out: Useless Predictions For Texans-Bengals

Did you know your Houston Texans have placed twelve (12) players on injured reserve this season? Let's take a look at who's on that dreaded list. After the jump, of course. Trust me: It's better to jump now via the link below than out a window in real life after you take a gander at the list.

WR Lestar Jean (Aug. 30)
G Darius Morris (Aug. 30)
G Shelley Smith (Aug. 30)
G Kasey Studdard (Aug. 30)
CB Roc Carmichael (Sept. 16)
T Rashad Butler (Sept. 22)
OLB Mario Williams (Oct. 12)
FS Dominique Barber (Oct. 19)
ILB Darryl Sharpton (Nov. 2)
QB Matt Schaub (Nov. 23)
QB Matt Leinart (Nov. 30)
P Brett Hartmann (Dec. 6)

Your Houston Texans have lost three starters (Super Mario, Schaub, and Hartmann), their top reserve on the offensive line (Butler), a key cog in their rotation at inside linebacker (Sharpton), their backup quarterback (Leinart), a solid special teams constributor (Barber), and assorted other depth ranging from "potentially" to "totally unlikely." That doesn't even count the extended time missed by Andre Johnson, and that meter's still running. Yet the Texans are still 9-3 and virtually assured of the first playoff appearance in franchise history, the first division title in franchise history (which in turn means the first home playoff game in the history of the team/Reliant Stadium), and the best single-season record in franchise history.

That's amazing. To do it with the personnel losses the Texans have weathered? Even more flabbergasting. No matter what happens in Cincinnati on Sunday, or at Reliant next Sunday, or in Indianapolis the following Thursday night (here's where you should be watching that game, by the way), or at Reliant on New Year's Day, or at any point in the postseason, the 2011 Houston Texans have battlefought admirably. It's both sad and stupendous that we can already say this has been the best season in franchise history.

What does this have to do with this week's edition of "Three and Out?" Nothing. Just felt like writing it before I relayed the details of my conversations with spiritual forces to you. Thought it might legitimize some of the tripe I'm about to spew.

Didn't work? Oh, well. On to the predictions!

1. You may have thought Matt Schaub felt the loss of Andre Johnson, but T.J. Yates will feel it even more. While Yates will take the occasional shot downfield (one of which will be a 30+ yard completion to Jacoby Jones) on Sunday, the bread and butter of his 219 yards passing will come from working the middle of the field to Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen, along with the occasional screen pass to Arian Foster. Yates will throw another TD pass; he'll also throw his first interception of the season that's not called back due to holding by Dunta Robinson (or any other penalty).

2(a). As our friends at Cincy Jungle have observed, Andy Dalton (THE PRIDE OF KATY, TEXAS AND PERHAPS ITS MOST FAVORITE SON NOT NAMED "TIM") has struggled against top-five defenses this season, with a 73.2 passer rating and 8 INTs to match his 8 TDs. That trend will continue on Sunday, as Dalton will be sacked three times, hit several more, and picked off once by Johnathan Joseph in his Cincinnati homecoming (though A.J. Green will pull in a TD reception from Dalton).

2(b). I may be the only person who will appreciate that Houston's shutdown corner shares a surname with Katy High School's (and Andy Dalton's!) football coach.

2(c). I will definitely be the only person who pays homage to this coincidence by belting out a stirring rendition of "Katy, Our Katy," followed by "Bulls On Parade" before kickoff.

3. Jacoby Jones returns a punt for a touchdown. He's done it to the Bengals before.

PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: I cannot emphasize what a huge game this is for the Bengals. If they lose, their hopes of a wild card berth officially go on life support. They desperately need a win on Sunday. Their team has a bunch of good, young talent, and that will serve them very well in the coming years. Unfortunately, I don't think it'll be enough to overcome Houston's defense. Texans 20, Bengals 13.

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