The end of week 10 is here: It’s Monday Night Football! The Cincinnati Bengals couldn’t have dreamt up a better start to the season. They are 8-0, are one of the healthiest teams in the league, and most importantly, Andy Dalton is finally taking the reins of this team and is playing like an MVP candidate. The Bengals are looking to join the Patriots and the Panthers at 9-0 with a win tonight. The Texans, on the other hand, could certainly have dreamt up a better season. The Texans quarterback situation has been an absolute mess, Arian Foster is out for the season and Jadeveon Clowney has been unable to make an impact through an injury riddled first 18 months with the team. The Texans need a win tonight to try to keep up with the Colts and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Three keys to the game:
1. Can the Bengals contain DeAndre Hopkins?
DeAndre Hopkins has been on fire this season. He can turn every catch into a touchdown and he can make pretty much any catch too. He has the ability to flip a game on its head. As for the Bengals, their secondary has been able to prevent many big plays. That habit will have to continue tonight.
2.Can the Bengals get all of their offensive weapons weapons involved?
The Bengals boast one the deepest offensive skill position groups in the NFL and Hue Jackson needs to get everyone involved. Jeremy Hill has yet to really get going, and the same goes for Mohammed Sanu. With AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, Giovani Bernard and Marvin Jones playing well, if Sanu and Hill get going, Dalton really won’t have the chance to crumble.
3. Can the Texans get their running game going?
With Arian Foster out for the year, the Texans need Alfred Blue and Chris Polk to step up. Not only would success on the ground mean the defense spends less time on the field, it would also open up the passing game. If they can establish the run, Bryan Hoyer will have a much better chance to succeed.
Match-up to watch:
JJ Watt vs the Bengals offensive line;
JJ Watt is the best defensive player in the league. The Bengals offensive line is arguably the best in the league. If Watt can get in Dalton’s face and wreck the pocket, and then disrupt the running game enough, then the Texans will have a much better chance of keeping up with the Bengals. However, if Watt cannot break down this o-line, or at least take up enough blockers that other people can exploit gaps, then Dalton will have plenty of time to spread the ball around his playmakers, and Hill and Bernard will be left to run free.
If this was 2014, I’d have a lot more trouble picking the Bengals to win. It’s in primetime and the Bengals are supposed to win, that would normally be enough to pick against the Dalton lead Bengals, but this year it is different. Dalton looks great and that’s a large reason I’m picking the Bengals. They just have too much talent for the Texans.