2012 NFL Wild Card Picks: Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans Odds and Predictions – Free NFL Picks 1/7/11

Free NFL Wildcard Picks: Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans NFL Playoff Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on NBC 1/7/12: For the AFC South champion Houston Texans (10-6), Saturday’s Wild Card matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) will be a historical game for the franchise. The Texans will be playing in the postseason for the first time and will be looking to make the moment even more memorable with a win. Meanwhile, the Bengals will be looking for their first playoff win since 1991, which ironically came at the hands of the old Houston franchise that has since moved to Tennessee. The game is a rematch of a regular season meeting that featured a come-from-behind 20-19 win by the Texans on a late touchdown pass. This time around, the Bengals are three-point underdogs.

While the Texans rallied in dramatic fashion to beat the Bengals in the first showdown and clinch the division in the process, Houston hasn’t won a game since. Limping into the playoffs isn’t exactly a recipe for success, but playing at home against a team that they have already defeated has to inspire a bit of confidence in the Texans. Of course, Cincinnati hasn’t exactly had powered its way into the playoffs either. The Bengals are 1-7 against teams with winning records this year and winless against teams that made the playoffs.

Based on the stat sheet, the game should be a defensive battle. The Bengals are giving up 20.2 points per game to opponents, while the Texans are allowing just 17.4 a game. Both units have been strong against the run, but Houston has the edge in the secondary. Ironically, a big reason for the Texans’ improvement against the pass was the acquisition of former Cincinnati cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Even without their star pass rusher Mario Williams, who is out with an injury, the Texans’ defense is the stronger of the two units. In fact, it was a strip sack by Houston defensive end Connor Barwin that fueled the Texans’ comeback in the first game.

While both teams have had excellent defenses, their offenses have been inconsistent at times. A big part of the problem has been inexperience at the quarterback position. Granted, rookie Andy Dalton has exceeded expectations, but he is still less than a year removed from playing at the college level and must now face a stout defense in a pressure-packed atmosphere. Meanwhile, the Texans’ T.J. Yates may be in an even tougher situation. Unlike Dalton, who has been starting since the first game of the season, Yates was forced to take over late in the year following season-ending injuries to Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart. Who could blame Yates if he feels some jitters leading a franchise in its first-ever playoff game?

Yates’ job could be further complicated by the health of star wide receiver Andre Johnson. When healthy, Johnson is arguably the top player at his position. However, multiple hamstring injuries have hobbled throughout the year, and he is just now getting back to full strength. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has enjoyed the services of receiver A.J. Green all year. The rookie exploded onto the scene, topping 1,000 yards and making the Pro Bowl. Green is Dalton’s top target and the Bengals’ best offensive weapon. If he has a big game, Cincinnati could score enough points to win what should be an otherwise low-scoring contest.

The X-factor will likely be Houston running back Arian Foster. After dealing with hamstring issues to start the year, Foster came on strong to finish third in the league in total yards. He is a big play waiting to happen in the run and passing game, and just one year removed from a rushing title, Foster could take over the game on the offensive side of the ball. That being said, he managed just 41 yards in the earlier meeting against Cincinnati, and the Bengals’ run defense seemed to have him figured out.

With two rookie quarterbacks going up against two strong defenses, another tight, low-scoring game could be in order. Field position should play a big role, and if either side starts turning the ball over, their chances are almost certainly doomed. In the end, the Bengals’ ability to slow down Foster and put pressure on Yates will be critical. If Johnson is fully healthy, he may be able to find some holes in the Cincinnati secondary. However, it is tough to imagine Johnson being healthy after injuring both hamstrings during the year. As a result, the Bengals should be able to build a lead as they did in the first meeting with the Texans, resulting in a close game even if Houston manages another rally.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals (+4) Cover the Spread

Free NFL Football Picks and Predictions: Cincinnati +4

NFL Playoff Football: Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans
Date: 1/7/2012
Time: 4:30 PM EST on NBC
Vegas Odds Favorite: Houston -4 | Total: Over/Under 39

Stop by NSAwins.com daily throughout the NFL Football season for daily Free NFL Picks and Vegas NFL Lines plus daily updated Super Bowl 2012 Futures Odds.

2 EASY STEPS to BET on 2012 NFL Football Odds Daily!
STEP 2: Deposit with Credit Card or Deposit by Check and get an EXCLUSIVE “100% BONUS” upto $2500 FREE added to your JustBET Player Account Funds.

Translate »