Making a pick for this game largely comes down to how much importance you place on the second half performances of each team. The Texans looked liked legitimate Super Bowl contenders up until a late season swoon cost them a first round bye and set up this match up with the Bengals. We all know how well Cincinnati played in winning seven of its last eight, but the fact remains that only two of those wins came over teams that finished with winning records, and one of those was the preseason-resembling season finale over Baltimore. I do think the Bengals defense is for real, and forces Houston into a late turnover that makes the difference.
Cincinnati 17, Houston 13.
This may be the Bengals’ best chance to win a playoff game in the Marvin Lewis era. For the first time ever, they have the momentum while their poppet is floundering. Still the Texans come out firing in front of a rocking Houston crowd and take an early lead on Cincy, but the Bengals methodically run BenJarvus Green-Ellis right up the gut of the battered Texans defense that is missing Brian Cushing and Tim Dobbins.
The Bengals keep up this strategy before turning to A.J. Green to carry them across the finish line as he get’s the best of former Bengal Johnathan Joseph on his way to a 100+ yard day, and Andy Dalton’s big day leads Cincinnati to it’s first road playoff victory.
Bengals win, 21-20.