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Bengals vs. Texans

NFL Wildcard Pick

1/7/12

The Cincinnati Bengals visit the Houston Texans to kick off Wild Card Weekend in the NFL in a matchup between a team that hasn't won a playoff game in 21 years (Bengals) and a team that has never been to the playoffs (Texans). The Texans are 3 point home favorites with a posted total of 38.5 at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.

The Bengals had a decent season. Not great. They were competitive each and every time they took the field with the exception of a 35-7 loss at Pittsburgh late in the year. But there's a huge difference between being competitive and winning. Let's face it, this team backed into the playoffs. They were 0-7 against playoff teams and own just one win over a team with a winning record, the Titans. After starting the year 6-2 and 7-1 against the spread, the faded down the stretch going 3-5 and only covering 1 game in that span. Note the Bengals inability to cover in the 2nd half of the year. A very good indication that the Bengals aren't all the public thinks they are. Also note that the public continues to back the Bengals this week.

The Bengals offense ranked in the bottom half of the NFL but their defense was a very respectable 10th against the run and 9th against the pass. Give the edge to the Bengals at QB as Andy Dalton can longer be called a rookie. He started 16 regular season games this year, unlike his opponent T.J. Yates who has started just 6 after seeing Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart go down with season ending injuries. To top it all off, Yates comes into the game with a bruised shoulder.

Fortunately for the Texans, they've earned their playoff birth by possessing two of the most important components to any winning football team, a strong running game, ranked #2 in the NFL and a strong defense, ranked 3rd in the NFL. They could likely insert any journeyman QB into this system and still be successful.

These two squared off in early December with the Texans coming away with a 20-19 road win. In that game, the Texans outgained the Bengals 412-285 and came away with the win despite turning the ball over 4 times. We see no reason for things to change this time around. Unlike the Bengals, who backed into the playoffs, the Texans had things locked up prior to their final game last week. While losses to the Colts and Panthers in the previous two weeks certainly aren't a vote of confidence, we think the Bengals are the right side here by virtue of their running game, their defense, and their home field.

You don't handicap 3 point games with the pointspread in mind. You simply concentrate on picking a straight up winner. That straight up winner from where we sit, will be the Houston Texans. Simply the better team from top to bottom. Texans -3

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