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Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
8:25 PM EST. We're not sure what it says about Texans head coach Bill O'Brien that after an off-season filled with scrimmages, OTAs, practices and preseason games that Tom Savage, the guy O’Brien chose to be his starting quarterback, was benched after just 31 plays in one of the worst halves of football in recent memory. That doesn't matter now, as former Clemson star Deshaun Watson will take the reins tonight. Watson was a hero in Houston after putting together a couple of first downs and he did not look out of place in throwing for 102 yards and a touchdown. It might look like the Texas have a lot working against them here like starting a rooking quarterback, in a road game, on a short week in prime time, but those factors combined with Houston’s awful performance last Sunday against Jacksonville no less, has caused one of the biggest overreactions this week. Losing to Jacksonville at home in the first week of the season in the eyes of the market is equivalent to Michigan losing to a team like Mid-Tennessee State for instance.
Despite Houston’s poor first half showing, the complexion of the team hasn't changed that much. The defense figures to rebound while Watson can cause problems with his ability to scramble and move the chains with his legs. That’s a weapon the Bengals have little time to prepare for. We also cannot count out the emotional and physical toll the effects of Hurricane Harvey had on these Texan players. Many were on the ground helping Houstonians throughout the storm. An emotional pregame ceremony likely did not help matters, as the Texans were flat from the first whistle. Fading the home team after a pregame full of pomp and circumstance is one of our favorite angels and last week was another great example. A road trip and getting right back on the field might not be the worst thing in the world for the Texans here.
Aside from that, did you happen to see the Bengals play last week? The organization has allowed Marvin Lewis a “Belichickian” like control over the team, as he has been in Cincy since 2003. The problem for Lewis is that his “Tom Brady” is Howdy Doody. Dalton completed a pathetic 51.6 percent of his passes in Week 1 while throwing four picks. Turns out the strategy of chucking every ball at A.J. Green until his legs snap is a misguided one. Let’s not forget that the Bengals missed the playoffs last year with a 6-9-1 record. What’s there to like about this team spotting six points? Dalton is inconsistently awful, Marvin is clueless and presiding over all of it is Mike Brown, a man that virtually every Bengals fan is waiting for him to die.
The question after every Week 1 debacle is the same. Are we that bad or were they that good? There's no doubt that the Ravens have a good defense but they throttled the Bengals in their own stadium in dominating fashion. The passing game was not only bad, it mirrored the same sort of results that the Texans had last week as well. While both teams stunk out their respective joints last Sunday, theirs is a big difference between the two losses. Houston had massive distractions last week while the Bengals had none but it was Houston that appears to have done more damage in the marketplace.
Cincinnati is now being asked to win this game by a margin to get the money. With a total of just 38, we don't see an easy path for that to happen. Houston’s defense is rock solid and very much resembles the Ravens. The Texans get a positive jolt with the sooner than expected arrival of their “franchise QB” while the Bengals get no jolt with the continued play of the stale Andy Dalton. Lastly, Houston’s defense has the blueprint to stymie the Bengals attack, as they held Cinci to 10 points last year and six points the previous year. Hell, the Bengals can barely score six points against this defense so one really has to question how they’re going to cover six. Chances are, they’re not.
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Houston +6 -105 (Risking 2.1 units - To Win: 2.00)