PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: Bruce Gradkowski #7 of the Cincinnati Bengals drops back to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half during the game on December 4, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Good morning Bengals Nation! It's time to rise and shine even though I'm sure most of you would rather be sleeping in! I know I would much rather be sleeping right now, but we can't always get what we want. Anyways, it's the beginning of the weekend which means relaxation, beer, food, no work, more beer, and more importantly football! Bring on the Texans.
Alright here are the five keys for the Bengals on Sunday.
- Protect Andy Dalton. The Bengals must protect Dalton and not have a repeat of last week where Dalton was sacked 459 times (slight exaggeration), but you get my point. Dalton didn't have any time in the pocket last week to make a decent decision. That was part of the reason the Bengals were massacred by the Steelers. As long as the Bengals can give Dalton enough time to make rational decisions then the Bengals should be in decent shape.
- Limit the damage of the Texans running game. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are one of the most dynamic duos in the league. In all honesty, I can't recall the last time a pair of running backs did this much damage on the ground. Since the Texans will be starting T.J. Yates, a third-string rookie, I would anticipate that they will rely more on the run. And if that's the case then Cincinnati will have to limit the damage done by Foster and Tate. If they can hold them to fewer than 70 yards then they stand a fighting chance.
- Dont' commit so many penalties. Last week the Bengals committed 10 penalties and that absolutely destroyed any chance of them staying in the game. This week the Bengals cannot have a repeat of that. Penalties are part of the game. They are bound to happen, but this week the Bengals can't commit a ridiculous amount of infractions.
- Stay healthy. As usual, the Bengals must stay healthy. I'm not worried about the Texans. For all I care Yates could exit the game due to an undisclosed injury and the Texans send in Jake Delhomme or Jeff Garcia. As for the Bengals, since they already lack depth at wide receiver and on defense they cannot afford to lose anyone to injury.
- The receivers must catch the ball. Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell both must show up. It can't be like last week where they caught a combined zero catches. It needs to be a repeat of their first mactch-up against the Baltimore Ravens where they caught a combined 11 passes for 215 yards. Okay, now that might be a bit drastic to expect, but something along the lines of that must happen. The Bengals can't rely solely on A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham. Dalton needs more targets to pass to and even those Andrew Hawkins has stepped up recently, Cincinnati needs more than three targets considering they are facing off against one of the best defenses in the league.
Alright so here is my prediction for Sunday. Since this is a must win for Cincinnati and the Texans will be playing in a climate that they aren't use to, I see the Bengals winning this match-up 20-14.
Alright here is what you may have missed or overlooked from Friday.
- The final injury and practice report for the Bengals and Texans. Dontay Moch has been dealing with "migraine issues." Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson will not play on Sunday against the Bengals.
- On Sunday some former University of Cincinnati and Bengals players will make their homecoming.
- According to Marvin Lewis, Sunday's game against the Texans is the "biggest of his career."
- With the season winding down, the experts have made their predictions for Week 14.
- The success of the Bengals' offense under Jay Gruden has been generating a lot of interest for head coaching vacancies.
- Anyone wondering what the TiqIQ ticket deals are for Sunday versus the Texans?
- The Bengals will aim to get to .500 against defenses that are ranked in the top-10.
- A lot is at stake for both the Bengals and Texans on Sunday. But who cares about the Texans? When you're in Bengals country nothing else matters.