Week two of the NFL season features the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Houston Texans in a game where both teams could really use a win to get their seasons on track (8.25pm ET Thursday).
The Bengals hosted the Baltimore Ravens in their NFL opener on Sunday and got blanked 20-0. Going scoreless was surprising for the Bengals but if the game was any indication, it looked like Cincinnati was still very much in preseason mode. Quarterback Andy Dalton tossed four interceptions and fumbled the ball once, none of which occurred in high pressure situations like the ones he’ll face this week. Dalton’s QBR was a 0.6, which is the third worst rating since 2006, when the stat was first created. Cincinnati’s defense didn’t look all that terrible, allowing just the 20 points, but they were on the field for a decent amount of time and could never catch up from the hole that Dalton put the team in early.
The Bengals will take on a Texans team that scored a whopping seven points at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars and didn’t exactly look to be in midseason form either. Returning to NRG Stadium for the first time since Hurricane Harvey certainly provided an emotional atmosphere but unfortunately the Texans weren’t able to send their fans home with a victory. In fact the defense, which has been one of the most staunch in the NFL over the past several years, allowed 29 points in the loss not to mention surrendering a NFL-high 10 sacks. Houston’s offense wasn’t really any better, scoring just the one third quarter touchdown.
The season is still young but after last week’s results, both of these teams could really benefit from a victory and a strong performance in their second game of the year under the Thursday night lights.
Good Andy Dalton vs Bad Andy Dalton
In the past, the Bengals have been really good. In fact, for several years Cincinnati was actually competitive in the AFC North and even won the division a few times. Those were the years that Andy Dalton was one of the better young quarterbacks in the league. When at his best, Dalton is pretty good but the problem is, when he’s not at his best, there really is no middle and you end up seeing games like Sunday’s against the Texans. Bad Andy Dalton tends to be really bad and that’s when the Bengals suffer.
In this game Dalton will be tasked with righting the ship but unfortunately for him, he won’t have an easy task taking on Houston’s front four. Uncharacteristically, the Texans didn’t record a single sack in game one but that doesn’t change the fact that their defensive line is still one of the best in football. If Dalton plays the way he did Thursday, it could be open season at Paul Brown Stadium.
Another thing to watch with Dalton is that throughout his career, he’s never really been good in the clutch. The Bengals have won just five of their 18 night games while he has been under center and, against Houston, Dalton has won just one of four.
What to Expect from Deshaun Watson
Tom Savage won the starting job over Deshaun Watson in the offseason but Sunday’s game may have changed that. Savage had a rating of just under 67, which was just five more passing yards than he had on the day. Coming out of the half it wasn’t Savage however that was under center but rather Watson, the first round rookie draft pick. Watson played pretty okay in his first real game action of the season, hitting a 60.4 rating, 102 passing yards and his first NFL touchdown.
Watson is expected to get the start on Thursday but with just four days to really prepare for it, his potential in this game could be limited. That coupled with the fact that his first NFL start is under the primetime lights, could be a bit intimidating for the newly minted 22-year-old.
The biggest pro to Watson’s early game so far has been the dependency on DeAndre Hopkins, a fellow Clemson player. Watson found Hopkins early and often and clearly seemed comfortable throwing to his top weapon and one of the best wide outs in the league. Cincinnati’s defense is middle of the road at best so Watson could find success in this Thursday night game.
Our Preview’s Houston Texans vs Cincinnati Bengals Picks & Betting Predictions
The Bengals and Texans have met a decent amount of times over the past few years with Houston holding the advantage. The Texans have won seven of the last nine, both straight up and against the spread. That being said, the Texans are just 1-5 ATS in their last six and 1-4 SU in their last five on the road. Cincinnati’s numbers aren’t much better as they are just 6-11-2 ATS in their last 19 and 3-6-1 SU in their last 10.
This is a tough one to figure out as it could come down to just one or two plays made by the other team. Watson could freeze under the pressure and Dalton could return to being a QB and not a liability. Or the opposite could happen. Given the Bengals are at home however where Dalton has a strong track record, it seems that Cincinnati will have an edge, even if just a small one.
- The spread is 6.5pts with nearly all American online betting companies. Our betting predictions’ advice is to bet on the Cincinnati Bengals -6pts @ -115, only with MyBookie.
- Recent trends between these two favor the under and scoring at Paul Brown can sometimes come at a premium. Our pick is to bet the under 38pts total points @ -110 with Bovada, Intertops, 5Dimes or MyBookie sportsbooks.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.