After last week’s crushing loss to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati enters this weekend at 5-8-1 and out of the playoff mix. All they have to play for now is pride and hope of building momentum towards a bounceback season in 2017.
This week actually marks the first time in exactly 100 games (including postseason) that the Bengals are playing without the playoffs at stake. Cincinnati’s run of five straight seasons in the playoffs came to an end last week.
The Bengals lost 24-20 at home to Pittsburgh, and even had they won, wins by Miami and Baltimore would have eliminated them from the playoff picture.
As for the Texans, they needed a late rally to sneak by the lowly Jaguars, 21-20. The win kept Houston in position to claim the AFC South if they win out, but any slip-up could leave them sitting at home for the playoffs.
The Bengals are hoping to be one of those slip-ups this Saturday. Here is everything you’ll need to watch and follow Bengals vs Texans.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) at Houston Texans (8-6)
Game Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
Place: NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas
TV: NFL Network
Announcers: Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon
Local Radio: Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (1530) and WEBN-FM (102.7).
Broadcasters: Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).
Series and recent matchups: The Texans lead 6-4, including a 2-0 ledger in postseason play. The Texans lead 3-2 as the home team, including 2-0 in postseason. Last season, on Monday Night Football, Houston beat Cincinnati 10-6 at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Texans have also beaten the Bengals in Wild Card round playoff games at Houston in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The Bengals won the last meeting in Houston, 22-13 in 2014.
Cincinnati’s rivalry against teams from Houston actually spans 67 games. The total includes 57 meetings between the Bengals and the Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans). Those 57 games were split at 28-28-1, and the Bengals’ combined record against Houston teams is 35-37-1 (includes 2-1 edge for Houston in postseason).
Betting line: Houston enters this game as a 3.5-point favorite, according to OddsShark.
SB Nation Affiliate: Battle Red Blog
Weather: Partly cloudy and in the high 69s at game time. NRG Stadium is a retractable dome.
Prediction: The Bengals know this script: Come into Houston banged up and facing a backup quarterback. That was the case in 2014 when Cincinnati suffocated the Ryan Mallett-lead Texans en route to a 22-13 win.
This game plays out similarly with Tom Savage struggling vs Cincinnati’s stingy defense, and it doesn’t help the Texans may be without star running back Lamar Miller (ankle), making this inept offense even worse.
And with the return of A.J. Green, the Bengals find just enough offense to squeak out a hard-fought win in Houston.
Bengals 20, Houston 16.