After the Worst Loss of the Bill O’Brien Era, I’m sure the players are keen to get back on the field. Of course, with a short week, a litany of injuries, and a rookie QB expected to start tonight, my expectations are... how you say... tempered.
So here’s the, um... grim stuff.
The Texans have been embarrassed under Bill O'Brien before (more often than he or I would like to admit), and the team has rallied. There's no doubt that the combination of a short week, rookie QB making his first start, and 68% of the team out with injuries is less than ideal, but I believe the Texans will somehow answer the bell. Remember: O'Brien once pulled Case Keenum out of a deer blind and beat the Ravens. Granted, that was at home and with a squad that didn't resemble a field hospital set up on the banks of Antietam Creek.
I believe (or pray, whichever floats your boat) that O'Brien will tailor an offense--not HIS offense; desperate times call for desperate measures--to make Deshaun Watson as comfortable as possible in his first NFL start. I expect some zone read, some quick crossing routes, heavy use of Lamar Miller/D'Onta Foreman, and the very occasional shot down the field.
The pressure, as it should be, will be squarely on the Texans' defense. I believe (or pray) that they show the world they aren't the unit that got trucked by the Jaguars. J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus must make their presence felt.. They'll do just that en route to sacking Andy Dalton five times and forcing him into two turnovers, one of which is returned for a score.
MDC (whaaat??): Texans 27, Bengals 21.
It would be just sooooo Texans for them to follow up last Sunday's monkeykittening by looking like a good team this week, only to then revert to garbage the following week. I'M ON TO YOU, HOUSTON! I WILL NOT FALL VICTIM TO YOUR SHENANIGANS AGAIN!
Diehard Chris: Bengals 20, Texans 13.
Were this a regular week under more normal circumstances, I would pick the Texans to bounce back because I KNOW this defense is not what we saw Sunday. However, this is not a normal circumstance.
Short week, huge amount of injured players, a rookie quarterback, a defense blindsided by the suspension of their supposed emotional leader, and the continuing Duane Brown holdout - I just feel like it’s an insurmountable avalanche of bad.
Luke Beggs: Bengals 17, Texans 14.
Greg Mancz should hopefully shore up the interior of the O-Line a bit more, but Geno Atkins is still a monster. If the Bengals’ D-line gets going early, we could have a repeat performance of Sunday's troubles. I think the game will be reasonably close in the sense that both offenses will struggle.
Brett Kollmann: Bengals 10, Texans 7.
Whoever's offense plays worse in this game (and by extension whoever's defense plays better) will win. Right now I feel like Cincinnati's and Houston's offenses are both equally terrible, but with the Bengals being at home and the Texans having Deshaun Watson make his first ever career start, I will lean towards Cincy winning the day.
Kenneth (The FNG): Bengals 17, Texans 10.
A historically low scoring rivalry shows no signs of stopping as both team struggled last week. Combined with a short week to prepare, this could be a grudge match. I think Watson starts, but Geno Atkins gives the interior line fits. A fast Brandon LaFell will expose our secondary in single coverage.
Titan Matt Weston, Slanderer of Blade Runner and a Huge Fan of the Texas Rangers who are Currently 15 Games Behind the Houston Astros: Bengals 17, Texans 10.
It's the Bengals, so the Texans will probably win. But in an attempt to be a smart football man, I like this matchup a little bit more for Cincy. Both offensive lines are bad, yet the Bengals have an incredible set of skill players. They were shut out by Baltimore last week thanks to three red zone turnovers.
Against Houston, that performance probably won't happen again. I'm worried about this pass rush some after J.J. Watt turned into Jared Crick last week. Oh, and Houston is starting a rookie quarterback on the road, on a short week, with a bad ankle, behind an awful offensive line, without three of their tight ends.
It's going to be hysterical if the Texans pull this off and escape starting the year 0-3 after next week's inevitable New England loss.
Capt. Ron: Bengals 20, Texans 13.
Houston just got smoked by a horde of angry Jaguars seeking to avenge years of self-inflicted oppression in the AFC South. The Texans' defense looked confused and unprepared--something I expect will get turned around sooner than later--and the offensive line was wet tissue paper from start to finish. Wide receivers couldn't get open and dropped passes like they were enjoying a meaningless casual afternoon at a family picnic instead of a regular season game against a division opponent. Never mind that this game was supposed to be an emotional uplift for a city that was just ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. 22 players were listed on the injury report after the game, with five of them in the concussion protocol that sent C.J. Fiedorowicz o injured reserve.
What do I expect this team to do a mere four days later on the road? Well, Bill O'Brien just shredded the entire preseason, which focused primarily on getting the offense ready with Tom Savage as the starting QB. Now we get to see a rookie QB, who was given very little time with the starting offense in preseason, on a short week to prepare with the worst collection of offensive linemen in the history of the NFL, plus a rag-tag group of receivers outside of one DeAndre Hopkins and NO tight ends. While Houston has a history of bouncing back strongly after getting pantsed in humiliating fashion, I just don't see it this week. There seems to be too many structural issues and injuries for them to do that this time, on the road, on a short week, on a national broadcast, while being held together with duct tape. My guess is that viewership will be at a historic low for this tilt.
BFmf’nD: Texans 10, Bengals 6.
The Texans' defense re-appears against a patchwork Bengals’ offensive line. The defense creates a turnover for an easy score early on, and it's miserable football to watch from there on out. Marvin Lewis blows the game by not going for it on fourth down with about three minutes remaining, and the Texans win again versus the Bungles.
Mike Bullock: Bengals 31, Texans 10.
I love Bill O'Brien. But no matter how much I want him to be a winner, his prime time appearances have been a highlight video of how to get freight-trained while living in a self-immolated dumpster fire. Most of the previous debacles have been with an average level of available offensive talent and a lights-out defense.
Now, O’Brien has one quality offensive lineman, no tight ends, one quality wide receiver, an electric quarterback who has every reason on earth to play like a rookie, and the same offensive scheme that got the Texans decimated every other time they had a big national game.
I really want Houston to bounce back and blow out the Bengals, because they usually hold the keys to Cincinnati. I'll be blown away and happily eating crow if they do, but the tea leaves are drowning in concussion-laden waters on this one.
0-3, here we come.
Jeremy Brener: Bengals 17, Texans 10.
This game will be ugly. If I wasn't a Texans fan, I wouldn't watch it.
The Texans are being set up to fail. The only reason this game will be close is because Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals aren't necessarily the best team in the league, if you know what I mean.
There are many comparisons between our two teams, though. Porous offensive line, suspended linebacker, incredible receiver on a team where not much else happens on offense.
Keep in mind, Cincinnati did not score last week. Not once. The Texans’ defense is not terrible. It's the one salvageable thing on this team. The flow of the game will allow Houston's defense to be competitive, and a defensive score will be necessary if Houston wants to win this, because I can't see Deshaun leading this offense to more than one TD.
I was wrong in my prediction last week. I hope I'm wrong again this week.
It’s fun to be a Texans fan! Blargh.
Please use the comments to give your predictions. Above all else, enjoy the game - and the Color Rush unis? I guess?