Bengals Early Bird Special: Focus Is Vital

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 01: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to avoid the defensive pressure of Cory Redding #93 of the Baltimore Ravens during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Good morning Bengals Nation! It's finally Thursday. It felt like we would never reach this day. What's so important about Thursday though? Well, nothing truth be told except for the fact that there's only two days until the Bengals battle the Texans. And also the work week is almost over, but define work in the first place. Anyways, grab yourself some coffee and prepare to be stuck in traffic for quite some time.

In two days the Bengals will be playing their first playoff game in the Andy Dalton and A.J. Green era. And wouldn't it be epic if they came away with a win against the Texans in Houston? Well for anyone who thinks the Texans are going to steamroll the Bengals, think again. This game is a very winnable one for the Bengals.

When reviewing both teams and where they currently stand, I definitely like the Bengals status compared to the Texans. And it has nothing to do with me being a Bengals fan.

Despite winning their division Houston has lost three consecutive games to the Panthers, Colts, and Titans. Houston lost to the Colts? Really? How is that possible? In all honesty it isn't easy to explain. The best way to put it is that the Colts played better football that day and it cost the Texans a win. On the other hand Bengals defeated both the Colts and Titans this season.

Another reason I like the Bengals chances on Saturday is that as of now they are healthier than the Texans. The carousel at quarterback continues to turn for Houston. Matt Schaub will merely be a spectator and his replacement Matt Leinart will be joining him. Both of them suffered season-ending injuries early in the second half of the season. That meant Houston had to rely on rookie T.J. Yates. And while he didn't do a terrible job under the helm he certainly wasn't spectacular. Simply put, he did just enough to scrape by and that worked for a few games. I will give him this though, he isn't an accurate passer with him completing 61.2 percent of his passes in six games. But Yates is going to have to step up his efforts on Saturday if he intends to give the Texans their first playoff win in franchise history. Also the Texans defense is currently banged up with the absence of Mario Williams. They sure could use him on Saturday.

As for the Bengals they have mainly relied on Dalton this season with backup Bruce Gradokowski playing in a couple of mop-up appearances. Dalton hasn't looked like an elite quarterback this season, but he has demonstrated that he's more than capable of sticking around in the league for many years. If I had to chose a rookie quarterback for this game it would be Dalton hands down since he has a full season under his belt and not just a small taste. Also Dalton has made better decisions on offense compared to Yates. But then again Dalton had an entire season while Yates only played in part of the second half of the season.

For the Bengals to win they are going to have to remain focused on the task at hand and not worry about anything else. They are going to have to fight for those extra yards or even inches in order to keep the offense moving. And the defense is going to have to buckle down for the entire game. They can't just show up for one half of the game. The defense has to be present for the entire 60 minutes otherwise we could very well see a repeat from Week 14.

Alright here is a look at what you may have missed or overlooked from Wednesday.

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