Hug It Out . . . Because Somebodies Playoff Drought Will Continue

Posted: January 5, 2012 by Kodi in NFL

The unlikely battle of rookie QB’s for a chance to continue their Playoff run but who will prevail

The Texans have Arian Foster and the Bengals have a rookie WR who had a record setting season

The offense is likely going to be left at home though as two of the NFL’s top 10 defenses face off against eachother

The Playoffs are here and Saturday’s early game is a match-up between two teams that aren’t used to playing in January. The Cincinnati Bengals made it back into the postseason after posting a 4-12 record in 2010 and are returning to the playoffs for the second time in three years, 2009/2011. The Houston Texans entered the league in 2002 and have always found themselves behind the Peyton Manning led Indianapolis Colts and this year was the first time in franchise history they were able to win the AFC South. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since 1990 which is the longest active playoff victory draft in the NFL, one more season longer than the cursed Detroit Lions while Houston has the 7th longest drought being in the league 9 seasons without even getting into the postseason. Who was the last team the Bengals beat in the playoffs? The Houston Oilers of course but after this game one of these teams is going to break some a long drought that nobody wants to go through.

The Bengals barely squeaked in as the final Wild Card team while the Texans were a few injuries away from coasting towards the AFC’s number 1 seed instead they finished with the 3rd best record and won’t get a bye week. Cincinnati expected their success to ride on the arm of rookie QB Andy Dalton who was selected 35 overall in Aprils NFL Draft but after season ending injuries to starting QB Matt Schaub and back-up QB Matt Leinart the Houston Texans have had to rely on the 152nd selection of that Draft, North Carolina QB T.J. Yates.

Yates started 5 games but played in nearly 6 as Leinart’s injury was sustained early in the game and the young QB surprised a lot of people and was able to win the first 3 games he appeared in or started. He did however finish the season on a 3 game losing streak and his last win came against the Cincinnati Bengals, which was an impressive and surprising one. The Texans were trailing 16-3 at halftime in Paul Brown Stadium but trailing 19-13 with just over 2:30 left in the game Yates orchestrated an impressive game winning drive. It was capped off by a 6 yard touchdown catch by WR Kevin Walter with just 2 second left on the clock. After the extra point the Texans had won the game 20-19 and Houston had wrapped up their AFC South Division title. That was the last time the Texans won.

Just like the Texans Cincinnati got off to a hot start and Andy Dalton along with the Bengals first round Draft pick former Georgia WR A.J. Green led the Bengals to a 6-2 record halfway through the season. They won only 3 of their last 8 games and finished 9-7 making the playoffs with help from an epic collapse by the New York Jets. In the final 8 games Dalton only threw for over 250 yards twice but one of those times was a 364 yard performance against the Baltimore Ravens. Things aren’t looking good for the Bengals because they are 1-7 against teams with a winning record and 8-0 against everybody else.

Houston has dealt with injuries at the QB position but they have also lost extensive amount of time from two of their most influential players, DE Mario Williams and WR Andre Johnson, not to mention the fact that RB Arian Foster was injured for the first few games of the season. Williams and ‘Dre not going to be playing any role for the Texans in the postseason but Houston can still rely on Foster. After a tremendous year in 2010 Arian racked up over 1200 rushing yards and another 600 plus receiving yards in 13 games while scoring 12 total touchdowns. Foster is extremely reliable which is why the Texans have the most rushing attempts in the NFL, the 2nd most rushing yards and 3rd most rushing touchdowns. Their passing offense ranks 18th in yards and touchdowns but they have the 3rd least passing attempts and interceptions. Yates may have thrown for only 3 touchdowns in 6 games but he has also thrown just 3 interceptions.

The Bengals offense had a dramatic makeover from last years 4-12 team and they relied upon a lot of new players and Cedric Benson. The running back got in to some legal trouble, surprise surprise, and even spent his off week in a Texas jail but was able to rush for over 1000 yards for the 3rd straight season. WR Jerome Simpson was also arrested during the season for possession of Marijuana, over 5 pounds, but had over 700 receiving yards and somersaulted over a defender and stuck the landing in one of his 4 receiving touchdowns. WR A.J. Green became the 16th rookie in NFL history to have more than 1000 receiving yards and posted the 11th best season by any rookie wideout. Rookie QB Andy Dalton became just the 7th rookie to throw for more than 3300 yards. Dalton’s 2011 season was the 6th best in passing yards by any rookie and his 20 touchdowns was the 7th most in NFL history.

These two teams offenses are reliant upon rookie QB’s and a strong running game but really it’s their defenses that have gotten them into the playoffs. Houston has allowed just 278 points only three teams have allowed fewer and they have given up the 2nd least amount of yards. They are ranked top 5 in nearly every defensive category and rank 12 in turnovers. Cinci’s defense isn’t top 5 but it is top 10 and they haven’t allowed more than 268 passing yards in over 8 weeks. The Bengals will have their hands full with Arian Foster though as they have allowed 14 rushing touchdowns this season.

This game will likely be a defensive struggle due to QB’s who haven’t played under this type of pressure against defenses that are extremely stout. I do believe that it will be the 35th pick that prevails and not the 152nd. Yates played admirably in his first 3 appearances but hasn’t shown me that he can manage his way to a win, especially after dismal performances against the Colts and Titans to end the season. The Bengals only win against a team with more than 8 victories came against the 9-7 Titans that Yates was unable to beat but I think that Cincinnati’s defense wins them this game, unless Arian Foster blows up. There couldn’t be more pressure on Foster because realistically everyone knows that their entire offense will be reliant on his playmaking ability and he could do it. I think that this game will be close like it was in the regular season but this time there will be now miraculous game-winning drive and the Bengals hold on 21-17.

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