The Bengals headed into week 14 needing a win over the Houston Texans to keep their playoff hopes alive. They looked like they were going to win after heading into the locker room at half time with a 16-3 lead, but thanks to a second-half let down, they ended up losing the game by one point. Even though the Bengals did end up getting into the playoffs as a wildcard team, that was one of the lowest points of the season for Bengals fans.
One of the most frustrating things about that game was the Bengals inability to cover tight end Owen Daniels. Daniels caught seven passes for 100 yards in that game, leading Texans receivers, and was one of the biggest factors in the Bengals losing that game. That wasn't the first time that he's had a solid game against the Bengals either. In the three times the Bengals have faced Daniels, they've only been able to contain him once. On top of his 100-yard game, he caught two touchdown passes against the Bengals in '09. The only time they've been able to contain him was when they held him to 21 yards on three receptions in '08.
Covering Daniels is something the Bengals must do if they want to win their first playoff game in over two decades and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Outside linebacker Manny Lawson also believes the Bengals need to stop him on Saturday.
"Try to limit him to just making one move, one cut," LB Manny Lawson said. "Try to get our hands on him early to disrupt timing. Really, if we can just get to the quarterback, somebody in his vision away from Owen, or between him, that will help a lot."
Lawson alluded to it in the above quote, but there is more than one way to skin a cat (what an incredibly creepy idiom). They can stop him, of course, by covering him like white on rice (not as creepy), or they can stop passes from being throw to him by making sure they hit T.J. Yates every time he drops back to pass, preferably before he throws the ball.
Either way, Daniels must not be allowed to have another 100-yard game or a two-touchdown game if the Bengals want a free trip up to Foxborough to face the Patriots. The Benglas are 3-3 against the Texans, but they've lost the last three games in a row against them. If they plan to take the lead in the series in the biggest game that these two teams have played against each other, stopping Daniels is key.