Good morning Bengals Nation! I hope you had a productive week at work or school or whatever it is you spend your time doing during the week. Nevertheless, hopefully it was worth it. And either way you look at it, the week is over and what is done is done. There's no going back to fix anything that happened. So if you're having a bad day then cheer up because it's Wild Card Saturday and the Bengals are playing in approximately eight hours. It's on like Donkey Kong.
Alright so we all know what's at stake for the Bengals. They lose they go home. They win and they continue their ascent through the playoffs as the biggest surprise team in the playoffs. If the Bengals intend for their journey to continue then here is what's going to have to happen.
- The Bengals are going to have to cover that pesky tight end better known as Owen Daniels and not forget about Andre Johnson. Last time Daniels burned the Bengals for 100 yards on seven catches. It wasn't until some time in the second half that the Bengals realized "hey, maybe we should cover this guy." The Bengals will not be able to afford the ill-advised mistake of leaving him uncovered again. Also with Johnson actually playing this time the Bengals will have to make sure they have some extra coverage on him. The secondary will need to step up their efforts because everything is on the line.
- Put pressure on T.J. Yates. With Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap on the defensive line the Bengals should be able to pressure Yates into making some poor decisions that will hopefully be costly for Houston. If Yates has a ton of time in the pocket then it could mean one of two things--the Bengals are covering their targets so well that Yates doesn't have an open receiver. Or it means that the Bengals aren't putting any pressure on Yates at all allowing him all the time in the world to scan the field for a viable target.
- Protect Andy Dalton. For the season Dalton had a respectable season for a rookie quarterback that was thrown into a crappy situation. He looked as if he's been doing this for years. But the one glaring element of his game that he struggles at is when opposing defenses blitz him. The Bengals offensive line must protect him like Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli protected Frodo. Think of Dalton as Frodo with Andrew Whitworth, Kyle Cook, and Andre Smith as some sort of combination of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. The Texans defense are a bunch of orcs trying to capture the football. So, if the Bengals protect Dalton then he should be able to guide the Bengals to the end zone multiple times.
- Jerome Simpson and A.J. Green need to have the biggest game of their careers. I'm sure Green will be closely covered the entire game, but he will need to make some plays out of nothing. As for Simpson, assuming that there is increased coverage on Green, will need to be a bigger factor than he has been all season. When Simpson is on he can torch any opposing defenses and make them look silly, ahem sorry about your lucky Daryl Washington. But when he's off, man is he off. Simpson is going to have to utilize his athletic ability to the maximum otherwise Dalton will have fewer targets to muscle the ball to. Either way both of them have to catch a majority of the passes thrown to them. The Bengals cannot afford any dropped passes because we all know the "what if's" will arise if the Bengals don't win.
- Don't forget the Texans kind of love to run the ball. Houston has, in my opinion, the best running duo in the league in Arian Foster and Ben Tate. They're the Batman and Robin of football and Cincinnati must limit the amount of damage produced by the combo. Last time the Bengals held the two to a combined 108 yards on 23 carries. Not sexy numbers, but hey it could have been worse. The Bengals defense will need to repeat some of that glory in order to secure a victory. If either Foster or Tate find a hole then they will go all the way. The Texans running game is more than capable of, for lack of a better term, carrying them to victory. The Bengals defense will have to show up right from the coin toss.
Alright so it's prediction time. I think the Bengals magical season will continue as they hand the Texans a loss in their first playoff appearance in franchise history by a score of 23-20. Let's hear what your predictions for the game are.
Alright here is a look at what you may have missed or overlooked from Friday.
- Take a look at the latest round table. Does Jerome Simpson have a future in Cincinnati and are the Bengals capable of beating the Patriots should they advance to the next round? Click to find out.
- Here is the final injury and practice report for the Bengals and Texans.
- Check out this Bengals Playoff Party preview.
- Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has been nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.
- The Bengals have signed kicker Thomas Weber to a reserve/future contract.
- Alright it's time for the X-Factor Wild Card Edition. And I'm not referring to the television show.
- According to ESPN Andy Dalton is in some good company when it comes to his stats, but the one thing he isn't good at is when opposing defenses blitz.
- Check out what the national media has to say about the Bengals battling the Texans.
- According to Football Outsiders Bengals running back Cedric Benson is one of the most overrated players in the league.