Counter the pass rush
The Texans boast an incredible defensive front. One guy most people have never heard of is J.J. Watt. Wait, who am I kidding, anyone who knows anything about football knows who Watt is. The reigning defensive player of the year will once again be a force for the Texans' defensive line against the Bengals. His 8.5 sacks prove that once again he is a powerful weapon for the Houston defense. The Bengals need to contain him and run an offense that keeps him guessing. He is the type of player who can change a game as we have seen him do against the Bengals in the past.
Establish the run
One of the Texans' biggest weaknesses is stopping the run. If the Bengals can get a good rhythm with running the football, this will help with key number one in containing the pass rush. Sometimes a successful run game is built on an over-eager defense that gets caught pressing to reach the quarterback. The Bengals have done an excellent job of balancing the offense this season and should continue that on Monday against the Texans. Eventually, the running game will cause defenders to move closer to the line and then a well timed deep pass can crush the opposing defense.
Keep an eye on Nate Washington
So the Texans really love wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. He has been the go-to guy in the Houston passing game and is putting up the yearly stats to prove it. However, wide receiver Nate Washington is quietly becoming a force of his own. Washington has multiple 100 yard games this season and also has scored 3 touchdowns in the last two games. This is probably a result of opposing defenses focusing on Hopkins, as they should. The Bengals just can't allow a talented, under-the-radar wide out to beat them.
Feed Tyler Eifert
Quick hits and seam passes to Tyler Eifert will cause major issues for a team that tries to cover all the weapons at the disposal of Andy Dalton. Eifert is proving his worth this season and also benefits from the talent surrounding him. The Bengals will have the opportunity to use Eifert to stretch the field and he will remain the top target in the red zone.
You know what could be really bad for the Bengals on Monday night? Not keeping their head in the game. Letdown games are real things and this would seem like a perfect fit to that story line. The Bengals just came off of two big division wins. Next week they face a strong team with an interesting storyline in the Arizona Cardinals. There could be a tendency to overlook a struggling Texans team that you're favored over by double digits. Cincinnati needs to continue with their workmen like attitude. One day at a time, one week at a time.