Back when I was a kid, we had these things called newspapers. I know, I know. Cue the Dana Carvey grumpy old man voice. (We didn’t have no fancy internet! And we liked it! Weeee loved it!).
Anyway, before a playoff game or series the sports sections would often compare teams at each position, and decide who had the “advantage.” The team that had superior talent at a position would receive a check mark, and then the check marks were totaled at the end to predict which team *should* be favored. (Maybe the papers still do this, I don’t know—it’s been awhile since I’ve indulged in the pleasures of dead trees).
It is an absolutely ridiculous way of looking at matchups…but it is so totally fun! Jimmy the Greek was the patron saint of this system, so with a nod to the old-time NFL Today on CBS, let’s take a look at the Bengals and Texans.
Quarterback: Andy Dalton and Matt Schaub are sort of in the same boat, in that they both need a playoff win to be viewed as something more than middle of the road quarterbacks. Schaub has the better numbers this year, as well as a longer and more distinguished career. Advantage: Texans
Running back: This really isn’t a contest, though if you look at some of the advanced metrics Arian Foster did not have as good of a year as his reputation would indicate. Marvin Lewis has to be hoping and praying that BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be healthy enough to play, as the alternatives do not inspire much confidence. Anyone know what James Brooks is up to these days? Maybe even Harold Green? Advantage: Texans
Wide receiver/Tight end: AJ Green and Andre Johnson are both among the elite in the league at receiver, while Jermaine Gresham and Owen Daniels posted nearly identical state lines in 2012. I’ll take the big play potential of Andrew Hawkins as a tie breaker. Advantage: Bengals
Offensive line: Cincinnati really struggled in pass protection the last quarter of the season, which is a pretty ominous sign when facing a team that employs JJ Watt. Football Outsiders ranks Houston’s line in the top ten in both run and pass blocking in the NFL. Advantage: Texans