The Bengals and Texans will both be looking for their first win of the season when they face-off this Thursday. The Bengals suffered a 20-0 loss to the Ravens on Sunday, while the Texans fell 29-7 to the Jaguars. Both will need to get some offense going if they want to get one in the win column this week. Here are the one-on-one battles to keep an eye on this Thursday night.
Deshaun Watson vs Geno Atkins
Though not official, we all expect Deshaun Watson to get his first career start this Thursday. And if he wants it to go better than his performance Sunday, he needs to avoid Geno Atkins as much as possible. Houston quarterbacks were sacked ten times last week, and Watson went down four times, something Atkins definitely took notice of heading into this week.
The five-time Pro Bowler has 20 sacks in the last two seasons, and already notched one in Week 1. Atkins will look to add more than one to his total against the rookie Thursday. Deshaun Watson does have something going for him; he will be the only QB in this game that has a touchdown drive to his credit this season.
Dre Kirkpatrick vs DeAndre Hopkins
Kirkpatrick will have his hands full this week attempting to cover DeAndre Hopkins. The Houston wideout was targeted on 16 of 36 pass attempts from Texans QB’s in Week 1, which resulted in seven catches for 55 yards and the lone touchdown for the Texans.
With the expectation that QB Watson will be under pressure the whole night, we can also expect that he will rely heavily on Hopkins to get open early and often. Hopkins will likely receive a high volume of targets once again, but we’ll see if he can do more with the opportunities than he did in Week 1.
Both the Houston and Cincinnati offensive groups played horrible football in Week 1. Houston could muster only 203 yards of total offense (last in NFL), while Cincinnati didn’t do much better with 221 (27th in NFL). The teams combined for just seven points in their openers and the Bengals were the only team in to be shut out. Both offenses failed to take care of the football, finishing top-two in the league in turnovers (Cincinnati with five, Houston with four).
Certainly, both teams expect to be better than they’ve shown, but the more upsetting of the two has to be Cincinnati. We expected some turbulence coming from the inexperienced QB’s of the Texans, but Andy Dalton is a veteran QB in this league. AJ Green and rookie Joe Mixon also had high hopes coming into the season, and while they can still have great years they did not get off on the right foot last Sunday.
This game will likely be decided by who’s offense can find a pulse and move the football. Scores will be at a premium in this one, but time of possession, getting points off of drives, and taking care of the football will dictate the winner Thursday. Will it be the rookie in Houston who takes a step forward, or will Andy Dalton figure things out for Cincinnati?
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