Thursday Night Football returns when the Houston Texans visit the Cincinnati Bengals for the first Thursday night showdown of the year.
Both teams come into this game with something to prove, having lost decisively in home openers in which they were favored to win. Neither team wants to go home losing, but this game may be more important to the Bengals who are playing their second game at home before traveling to Green Bay in Week 3.
Cincinnati, which was expected to have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL this season, dropped an embarrassing 20-0 decision to the Baltimore Ravens, while Houston got manhandled by the Jacksonville Jaguars by a count of 29-7 in Week 1.
The Bengals were expected to be younger and faster this season, but neither showed up in their season-opening loss. Instead, Cincinnati continued to play to the same old script with a group of linebackers that was unable to cover running backs and tight ends and an offensive line that allowed quarterback Andy Dalton to be sacked five times and to spend most of the rest of his afternoon running for his life.
Dalton responded with the second worst outing of his professional career as he completed only 16 of 31 passes for 170 yards, four interceptions and one lost fumble. The Bengals made three trips into the red zone but, despite having a healthy A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert in the lineup, were unable to put up any points.
Cincinnati’s defense was the lone bright spot in an otherwise miserable afternoon. The Bengals held Joe Flacco in check most of the day and allowed him to complete just 9-of-17 passes for 121 yards, one touchdown and an interception, and a passer rating of 71.0. Most of his yardage came on a 48-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin on one of the Bengals’ few defensive breakdowns of the game.
Houston experienced its own share of offensive struggles that saw starter Tom Savage give way to rookie Deshaun Watson at the beginning of the second half. Neither quarterback proved effective, as Savage finished 7-of-13 for 62 yards and a passer rating of 66.8 while Watson managed to only complete 12 of 23 passes for 102 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and a passer rating of 60.4.
The Texans were burdened by a slew of injuries at the tight end position, losing Ryan Griffin, C.J. Fiedorowicz and Stephen Anderson during the course of the afternoon. Linebacker Brian Cushing and wide receiver Bruce Ellington joined Griffin and Fiedorowicz in the concussion protocol with head injuries.
How to watch:
Game: Houston Texans (0-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
Date: Thursday, September 14th, 2017
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Kickoff: 8:30 PM EST
TV: NFL Network national broadcast, produced by NBC, and Cincinnati viewers may also watch the game on WLWT-TV (Channel 5).
Announcers: Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (color analyst) and Heather Cox (sideline reporter).
SB Nation Coverage: CincyJungle and BattleRedBlog
Online Streaming: Watch the live stream on the NFL's mobile app. International viewers can use NFL Game Pass.
Radio: Coverage on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst). The game also will be aired to a national audience on affiliates of Westwood One Sports. Broadcasters are Ian Eagle (play-by-play) and Tony Boselli (analyst).
Odds: Bengals: -3; under/over: 38 (Bovada)
Coaches vs Opponent: Marvin Lewis (4-6), Bill O’Brien (2-1)
Series Leader: Texans lead 6-4
Weather: partly cloudy and 68 degrees with 2% chance of rain [NFL Weather]
Uniforms: Color Rush