Remember all those fond memories of the Houston Texans playing the Cincinnati Bengals? Yeah, well hold onto to those mental movies on Monday night. You are going to need them when the Bengals are up 28-0 and bathing themselves in spaghetti chili. Keep them close. Sit in the corner of your room. Rock quickly as you think about J.J. Watt's pick-six and Andre Johnson's fade down the left sideline. It's going to be a long night.
1.) The Cincinnati Bengals Are Really Good.
The Bengals are 8-0. It isn't a fluke. They are third in DVOA. Second in offensive DVOA. Tenth in defensive DVOA. They have a point differential of +87. This has all occurred while playing against the tenth toughest schedule in the league.
2.) The Houston Texans Aren't Very Good.
The Texans are 3-5. It isn't a fluke. They are 30th in DVOA. 26th in offensive DVOA. 20th in defensive DVOA. They have a point differential of -31. This has all occurred while playing against the 24th toughest schedule in the league.
3.) Insert Ginger Joke Here.
Andy Dalton has been remarkable this season.
His numbers are similar to last year, except the interceptions are down. The knock on Dalton has always been the trouble he has against the pass rush. He's playing a whole lot better this year with the same offensive line as last season. The difference is that he is entering the prime of his career at age 28, and he has a weapon in the center of the field. With Tyler Eifert, he has a security blanket he can check down to when the pressure gets there.
I can't see the Houston Texans getting a pass rush against the Bengals, and that's really the only way to stop this offense. Andre Smith hasn't allowed a sack this season at right tackle. Andrew Whitworth is a possible future Hall of Famer. Yeah, Whitney Mercilus has gotten to the quarterback more often this year, but that came against Luke Joeckel and Taylor Lewan. That won't happen against these two. J.J. Watt is still a deity, but even he will have trouble against members on this offensive line in one-on-one situations, let alone double teams.
Look for Dalton to continue the good vibes, man, as he gets a a ton of time to throw deep and attack the Texans' shoddy safeties.
The numbers look like Brian Hoyer is having a career year under the guidance of the maestro Bill O'Brien. Yet a lot of these numbers have come in garbage time, and he's still Brian Hoyer. Every game, he makes five throws that should be picked off, but he's usually lucky and gets away with it. He won't be so lucky against the Bengals. They run a lot of zone defense and are the only team this year I've seen play zone well. They do a great job passing off assignments, picking up their man, staying in their zone, and breaking on the ball.
Add this to the pass rush the Bengals employ from Carlos Dunlap, Domata Peko, Michael Johnson, and Geno Atkins. The Bengals are able to play so much zone because, like the Carolina Panthers, they can create a pass rush with their front four. One of the issues for the Texans this year is the problem they have had on the interior of their line. The Bengals have two of the best interior rushers in the game in Peko and Atkins. Ben Jones, and whoever is playing LG, have been abused all season. This is very bad. This is very scary.
The only weak spot of the Bengals' defense is their linebackers. Rey Maualuga is a member of the Michael Griffin All-Star team (former first round picks who are terrible, but are never released by the team who drafted them). A.J. Hawk was a member of this elusive club until heading to Cincinnati. Vontaze Burfict is really good, but he's been injured. The Texans don't have any tight ends or running backs who can attack this soft center.
5.) The Matchup I'm Watching For
I love offensive line and defensive line play. I also love Brandon Brooks. He's one of my favorite guys to watch. He has great feet. He's strong and drives guys down the field. His footwork is perfect. He's so good in double teams. And he's just nasty. I mentioned it earlier--the Bengals have two awesome defensive tackles. I can't wait to see Brooks go up against Atkins and Peko.
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