After losing 2 of their final 4 games the Houston Texans have fallen from the AFC’s #1 seed to the #3 and will be playing this weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals to open the playoffs at home. Though the Texans have struggled they’ll have to forget about it quickly with the playoffs now at hand.”You have to have a short-term memory in this league. It’s more important now than ever.” That is what Texans RB Arian Foster had to say about forgetting the slow finish to the season and focusing on the playoffs right now. The Texans and Bengals last played almost a year to the day in the same scenario and the Texans won the game 31-10. If the Texans are going to win this game they’ll have to play the game with urgency and cut down on the mistakes this week, because it’s the playoffs and it’s win or go home now.
Matt Schaub and this Texans offense has struggled the last 3 weeks and will have to get out of their slump to take an early lead and be able to control the pace of this game. The Bengals will be bringing pressure and loading the box against the Texans in this game to attempt to control Arian Foster and the line of scrimmage during the game. If the Texans are going to be successful at moving the ball they’ll have to be able to recognize this and make adjustments. TE’s Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham will be huge in this game. They’ll have more opportunities to stretch the defense being guarded by LB’s out of the Bengals 4-3 scheme. Along with the TE’s Texans FB James Casey will could be a factor on Sunday. The Bengals are a very good team defensively and will be on point looking for the Texans to make mistakes so they can capitalize on them. In the secondary the Bengals are pretty tough with Adam Jones and Leon Hall on either side, but the Texans will b looking for WR Andre Johnson as much as possible. Johnson had a long TD catch against Jones last season on a double move deep. If the situation comes up again I believe the Texans will look to exploit Jones aggressive nature again.
JJ Watt had his coming out party in the Texans 1st playoff game ever last season as he caught a pass out of mid air and ran it back for a TD against Andy Dalton and the Bengals last year. Watt who’s now a player that the Bengals will be game planning for this time around and he knows it will take plays like last year to win this game.Watt had this to say about his play from last season and the game on Saturday: “Not going to talk about the INT for TD last year. Focused on making big plays THIS year.” And he’s absolutely correct, the Texans cannot live in the past anymore.The plan is simple going into this game for the Texans and it’s stop Benjarvis Green-Ellis and the Bengals run game and force Dalton to move the ball and beat them on the road in hostile territory. This Texans defense is 1 of the best in the league at what they do, and that’s confuse QB’s and being disruptive on every play from the line of scrimmage. If the defense can do this they should be successful at slowing down this high powered offense. Bengals WR AJ Green has proven to be almost unstoppable at times and will be QB Andy Dalton’s #1 target off play action passes and red zone pass plays. If the Texans can’t stop him it’s going to be a long day for them. I expect to see All Pro Jonathan Joseph on Green almost every play and Kareem Jackson when Joseph is guarding someone else.