After all of 2016’s ups and downs, the Texans control their own destiny heading into their final two games of the season (and really have controlled their own destiny for a while now). Of course, it didn’t have to be this hard. What if Tom Savage hadn’t had an infection? What if... well, let’s not do that here. Instead, let’s see how the BRB staff picks Houston’s penultimate regular season contest against familiar foes, the Cincinnati Bengals.
Tim: Texans 24, Bengals 20.
I don't know if Tom Savage is capable of consistently playing average football. What I do know, however, is that there's not much film of him for opposing teams to scrutinize. It's too early to say what Savage's tendencies are, or how a defense should specifically get after him. That element of surprise is to Houston's advantage; it's not something that'll be there for long, but it should be a plus for the Texans' offense for at least a week or two.
The Texans have enough weapons on offense that I believe they'll score some points. Houston's defense is performing at such a high level that it's difficult to envision the Bengals, even with a returning A.J. Green, scoring more than twenty points. Give me the Texans in a narrow win at home.
Chris: Texans 24, Bengals 13.
Many of us, self-included, have been saying the Texans’ offense may look significantly better with just an average NFL quarterback. Well, since I think Tom Savage (at least right now before the league gets more film on him) is more than capable of average, I have no reason to change my stance. The Houston defense continues to be so, so damn impressive and with the excitement of a new quarterback coupled with a prime time, nationally-televised game - I think the Texans will win this one with a superb second-half defensive effort.
Matt Weston (who was a fat 12 year old): Texans 27, Bengals 24.
This is the hardest game for me to pick this year. Who is Tom Savage? Will this game mean anything? Why is Skyline Chili five ways so tasty?
Andy Dalton is a top ten QB. A.J. Green is going to be back. This secondary can stall the Cincy passing offense, but like Rodgers and Rivers, Dalton should be able to put up some points. This isn't going to be the usual 20-13 win. I believe a Savage-led offense can score more than 20 points against this Bengals defense. It's going to be close. It may be meaningless. It's going to be a one score game.
Capt. Ron: Texans 28, Bengals 17.
This game has me trying to dig the Magic 8 Ball out of cold storage because there are so many new variables and unknowns. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green can connect for 3-4 touchdowns on a good day, so that's somewhat terrifying. Aside from that threat, the Texans "should" be able to contain this opponent at NRG Stadium. There is new excitement for the players and the fans with Tom Savage at the helm, so I suspect the overall energy in the stadium will favor Houston.
The Texans' pass rush led by Jadeveon Clowney can, and should, be the difference in this game if the secondary can cover long enough and not blow assignments. I'm hoping it will be "A.J. v. A.J." as Bouye keeps Green under wraps until the front seven bury Dalton not far from his hometown of Katy, TX. Without much film to find weaknesses in Tom Savage's tendencies, I suspect he should have a positive first career start and will find DeAndre Hopkins early and often. If Houston avoids mistakes, they should win at home on Saturday with a dominating performance.
Luke Beggs: Bengals 24, Texans 20.
While I believe the offense will be better under Herr Savage. I don't think it'll be good enough to beat out the Bengals offense with a returning A.J. Green and Andy Dalton.
But hey. our history of starting back up QBs against Cincy has always ended well. so who knows?
BFmf’nD: Texans 27, Bengals 13.
Look, I don't believe in chemistry or momentum or any of that kind of claptrap. What I do believe in is not kitten-y QB play, and it looks like we've finally got that for your Houston Texans. Last week, Tom Savage threw three (3) questionable balls. That's it. Savage may not be headed to the Hall of Fame, but he's no Brock Osweiler.
Sure, OFFENSIVE SUPERGENIUS Bill O'Brien will again trot out The Old Poodle Offense in his weekly attempt to hamstring his talent, but I think Savage will be able to execute well enough to make something happen. After a good performance against a talented Glitter Kitties defensive unit, I think we will see more from Savage against a solidly below-average Bengals' squad.
The defensive unit will feast against an offensive line that struggles to keep The Pride of Katy clean. Instead of my weekly pick-six off Brock prediction, here's one for the Texans.
27 points? It's an offensive assplosion!
Battle Red Coat: Texans 24, Bengals 9.
As worried as I am about A.J. Green, I have enough faith in Clowney and Mercilus to get to the Red Rifle before he can even think about tossing it up to A.J. Green. Benardrick McKinney and Brian Cushing will continue to be forces over the middle and should stop Jeremy Hill running all over us. I think keeping the Bengals to three field goal drives is a reasonable expectation.
If Tom Savage keeps his promise to "have fun and go rip it," we could have an explosive day on offense. I think those drives that were field goals in weeks gone past will turn into touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins will show everyone that he really is an All-Pro wide receiver and put up 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Can Tom Savage become the new Bengal Killer? I think so.
Mike Bullock: Texans 30, Bengals 19.
Houston’s defense stifles the Bengals early, leading to frustrations that have the least disciplined team in the league melting down early. Tom Savage and the running game play keep away from Dalton after that, as the Houston offense puts up three touchdowns and the Third Coast Professional Kickball League adds three field goals.
UprootedTexan: Texans 26, Bengals 14.
The only game that really matters right now is the game against Tennessee (I nearly vomited as I wrote those words), so this is more or less an interesting sandbox kind of game where we glean additional data about what kind of team the Texans are with Tom Savage under center. As for the game itself, I think Clowney goes in and rearranges Scut Farkus a lot, I think Green is trying to force himself back so he's not going to be 100% when he plays and the defense is still not good in terms of DVOA but it's not Skyline chili bad like the Jags' defense was.
The BRB staff is generally optimistic about this game. I for one unquestionably would have picked Cincinnati to win this one with Osweiler at the helm (it feels like the San Diego game for me), but with Savage I just feel like they can win it. It helps that Cincy isn’t so great with or without A.J. Green.
What say you, BRB? Use the comments below to give your prediction on the game, and Merry Christmas!