Wildcard weekend. Texans fans know we “shouldn’t” be here. We were “supposed” to be the 1-seed in the AFC. And yet, after a 1-3 final quarter of the season, here we are, facing the Bengals in the same weekend as last year. Same Bengals, same Texans, but different. This Bengals defense is bigger and badder in every way. This Texans defense is more decimated. Andy Dalton is surprising many of us. So is Matt Schaub but in a totally opposite manner. Both teams have questionable running attacks which is odd to say with Arian Foster and BenJarvus Green-Ellis in their respective backfields. What to expect from these two teams this Sunday? For answers we turn to Joe Goodberry of www.CincyJungle.com who fills in the blanks for us.
Is there still any trepidation about V. Burfict’s attitude and demeanor, or has he proven himself to be trustworthy? @txbobbumman
I was one that didn’t want Burfict for his play as much as his character. Going undrafted and signing in Cincinnati, he’s been the opposite of what we saw in college and read in reports. He’s humbled, eager to please, and provides energy that teammates are feeding off of.
Other teams seem to try and test him every week with an extra push or smack-talk after the play, but Burfict doesn’t bite. There’s still some concern that he could get too comfortable this offseason like he did that ASU, but as of right now, he’s been nothing but a pleasant surprise.
Can the Bengals take advantage of Danieal Manning’s coverage issues with Jermaine Gresham? @frobeus_NS
That depends on how the Bengals try to use Gresham. His role has fluctuated with every passing week from blocker, to short target, and even some deeper stuff down the seam. Mainly, Jay Gruden uses Gresham on shorter routes that’ll allow him to run after the catch. That’s his best trait. Gresham is big, strong and refuses to go down. He leads all NFL tight ends in yards after the catch. I would expect the Texans to play a deep safety over A.J.Green, if that’s Manning, Gresham will be free to do work on the linebackers.
What have the Bengals seen from the Texans on offense and defense that can be exploited? @texantakeover
The first thing that jumps out on offense is the Right Tackle for Houston. I don’t really know who he is, but in the games I reviewed, he definitely doesn’t look like an NFL starter. Carlos Dunlap will line up across from him and I have to believe that’s an advantage for the Bengals. On defense, the middle linebackers are the obvious weakness. We know the injury trouble Houston is having there and hopefully Cincinnati can exploit it.
What is the Bengals weakness that the Texans can exploit? @msawyer4
Make the Bengals linebackers and safeties think and redirect and the Texans will have the advantage. Counters, cutbacks, play-actions, reverses and bootlegs are very effective. On offense, Andy Dalton struggles with the blitz. Get pressure on him, and he’ll fold fairly easily.
When AJ Green draws extra coverage, who will benefit most for the Bengals? @txbobbumman
Andrew Hawkins and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Hawkins is a matchup nightmare and when the Bengals get him in space away from the extra coverage, he’s running for a while before the defense catches up. Green-Ellis takes advantage of playing against seven or less in the box and can really force defenses to play more sound.
What do you and other fans feel about the playoff loss last year and the chance for Bengals redemption in 2013?
We all feel like the Bengals got their collective butts kicked pretty bad last time. We feel the gap has been closed and the young Bengals should be more experienced this time. Most fans feel this team has a real shot this time.
Who are some Bengals players on offense and defense that we need to keep an eye on this weekend? @olyeller01
Besides Green, we’ve already mentioned Gresham and Hawkins, but keep an eye out for their rookie starting WR Marvin Jones. He has good speed and keeps finding ways to get open. They need to see consistent hands, but he’s getting close after recording 10 catches for 110 yards and a TD over the last two games.
On defense, watch for who matches up on Andre Johnson each play. The Bengals corners don’t follow the number one WR, and will instead play their sides.
The Bengals front seven is fearsome. How do you feel they matchup versus the Texans o-line?
I don’t think the best offensive lines can block this defensive line without help. It’s all up to the QB. If he can get rid of the ball early, Cincinnati won’t be able to get there. The problem is the Bengals secondary has been covering very well this year. Running the ball effectively and using play action is the best hope for mild success.
Thanks again to Joe Goodberry. You can find Joe on twitter @JoeGoodberry and writing for CincyJungle.com. Thank you to the readers for your questions throughout the season. Without your input, Know Your Opponent would never have gotten the popularity it’s achieved. Thanks especially to to @txbobbumman, @the_abman_mon, @texantakeover, @olyeller, and the many others who contributed on a regular basis. You can follow me and submit your questions for next week (*fingers crossed*) at @theclairebear23. Grateful for your readership, all and Go Texans!