There will be many intriguing matchups to watch this weekend when Cincinnati heads to Houston for a Wild Card rematch after last year’s 31-10 defeat, and one key matchup that could decide the ball game will involve a Bengal who didn’t play in last year’s game due to injury.
Leon Hall is back this time, and will be tasked with covering Texans Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson. Last year in Houston with Hall out of commission due to a torn achilles tendon, the 5’10″ Adam Jones was asked to cover the 6’3″, a clear mismatch in both size and ability, as Andre streaked down the sideline past Jones for a 40-yard touchdown catch late in the third-quarter that broke the backs of the Bengals.
Hall playing some of the best football of his 6-year career, but so is Johnson, who this past Sunday became only the second receiver in NFL history to record 1,500 yards and 100 catches in three separate seasons. He finished the year with 112 receptions for 1,598(14.3 avg) and 4 TDs, and must be the primary focus of the Bengals secondary. Don’t be surprised to see Mike Zimmer use double-coverage to slow Johnson down and make Houston’s other receivers beat Cincinnati.
TE Owen Daniels (62 catches for 716 yards) is the only other Texans receiver to have over 520 yards receiving. As long as Hall can hold up in coverage against Johnson, the Texans will have a tough time finding any offensive flow. Andre has been targeted on double-digit passing attempts in 10 of the Texans last 11 games, so you can be sure they’ll be trying early and often to feed get the ball in their best playmakers’ hands.