Week 1 recap
Houston’s defense of its AFC South championship went horribly awry in their home opener, going down 29-7 in a barrage of sacks and turnovers. Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson were battered for ten sacks and the offense turned the ball over four times. Savage was stripped and the ball was returned for a touchdown near the end of the first half for a 19-0 deficit. Rookie Watson did throw for the team’s only score with four-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins. Houston’s defense yielded only 280 total yards but was constantly put in a bad spot by the offense’s ineptitude.
Cincinnati had a home opener to forget, as they were shut out by Baltimore 20-0. Andy Dalton had a particularly nightmarish performance, getting sacked five times and throwing four interceptions. The Bengals defense played better than the offense, but their inability to slow the Ravens running game led to an eight-minute disadvantage in time of possession. The Bengals own running game managed an anemic 77 yards and only 3.5 yards per carry, while Baltimore was also able to keep AJ Green in check to the tune of only 74 receiving yards.
My dear Watson
The Texans will likely look to Deshaun Watson to spark the moribund offense in Week 2, provided he can recover from a right ankle issue in time for the contest. The fact that they benched Tom Savage so quickly in the loss against Jacksonville suggests that they’re ready to give the reins to Watson, the former Clemson star. His multi-faceted skills might be just what this team needs to start putting points on the board.
Red Rifle misfires
Many people will look to the stats of Week 1, see Andy Dalton’s ugly line, and assume that the loss was on his shoulders. Well, it certainly wasn’t his finest hour, but the line play in front of him didn’t help either. He was constantly under duress, and it won’t get any easier with JJ Watt and the rugged Texans pass rush coming after them. Dalton needs time to do his best work, but whether that will be provided for him remains to be seen.
Running to ease the pressure
Ideally, both of these teams like to play more of a ball-control style and not put the pressure on their respective quarterbacks to carry the load so much. The game script didn’t work out that way for either in Week 1, as they both fell into deep deficits early and didn’t have the luxury of establishing the run. On this short week, relying on the running game is almost a necessity, but that doesn’t mean either will be successful at it.
Bengals WR AJ Green vs Texans CB Johnathan Joseph
There is no bigger game breaker on the offensive side of the ball on these two teams than Green. He was mostly held in check last week only because Dalton didn’t have the time to find him, and there’s no guarantee that time will suddenly develop this week. But if it does, it will be incumbent upon the veteran Joseph to put a blanket over Green and force Dalton to look elsewhere.
Fantasy football tip – TE Tyler Eifert
Eifert was a complete non-factor in Week 1, with just a single catch. Again, it might be better to write that debacle off when considering the fantasy prospects of the Bengals key performers. The Texans aren’t nearly as strong at safety as they are at corner, which means Eifert could be a playmaker on Thursday night, especially in the red zone.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 20-10 Houston Texans
Asking a rookie quarterback who’s banged up to go on the road on a short week for his first NFL start against a solid defense seems like too wide a bridge to cross. The Bengals will gut this one out at home.
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