+ The Cincinnati Bengals will be facing a collection of players and coaches with connections to both the team and the city. Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph remain friends, writes Kevin Goheen with the Cincinnati Enquirer .
It’s been two seasons since Johnathan Joseph was playing cornerback for the Bengals, but he still keeps close tabs with his ex-teammates, especially Leon Hall. A few weeks ago, before Hall had gotten his first interception of the season at Philadelphia, Joseph was giving Hall the business via text about how even defensive tackle Pat Sims, with one, had more picks than Hall.
Hall got his second interception of the season the next game, at Pittsburgh, and turned it into a 17-yard return for touchdown that helped the Bengals to a 13-10 victory and clinched an AFC Wild Card berth.
"We had an inside joke about it, but I texted him right away about it," Joseph said. "I was happy for him because he had been talking right before that he hadn’t gotten his hands on one."
Joseph is on the "who got away" list after the Texans signed him to an 11th hour deal, despite the Bengals being convinced that he was returning to Cincinnati. Apparently a deal was that close before Houston jumped into the arena.
+ ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton writes that there have been three repeat playoff teams that met in consecutive seasons. Each time the team that won the first game has won the second. Clayton the Bengals defensive line:
Handling the Bengals' defensive line: The Texans will have to find ways to contain Cincinnati defensive tackle Geno Atkins. He had 12.5 sacks and gets great pressure up the middle. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Bengals were the best defense in football with four-man rushes. They had a league-high 37 sacks when rushing four or fewer defenders. That gives defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer the option of dropping seven into coverage. Texans coach Gary Kubiak will try to counter that with Arian Foster runs to set up Schaub's play-action passes. Schaub's rollout ability should help counter some of the inside rush of the Bengals.
+ From ESPN Statistics and Information:
+ Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga:
"We know that they’re going to come in with their bread and butter, which is try to run and get to the perimeter," said Maualuga. "We’ve just got to do our best to make sure not one just one person gets the ball, that we get all hats to (Arian Foster) and stop him, and make sure to get him down. We’re going to a familiar territory. I believe this is a different group. This is a different team than we were last year going into the playoffs. We’re a lot more familiar with the situation, and we’re comfortable. We know how loud it’s going to be and we know that if we give them a couple plays here and there, big plays, the crowd is going to erupt, the stadium’s going to go crazy. So in order to stop that, we need to stop their big playmakers and do our best to be consistent at times and make plays."
+ Ben Reiter with Sports Illustrated talks about the Cincinnati Bengals defense -- specifically the front seven.