Bengals: 5 Must-Win Games After the Bye

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Nov 23, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) makes a reception during the first half as Houston Texans defensive back Darryl Morris (26) attempts to make a tackle at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

3. Week 10: vs. Houston Texans

Monday 11/16 at 8:30PM EST

While the Bengals’ matchup with the Houston Texans may not seem like such a daunting task at first glance, it’s important to note that this is the Bengals’ second prime time game of the 2015 season, inconveniently placed just a week after Cincinnati’s first prime time game.

The Bengals will have a ton of time to prepare for this game–about 10 days, to be exact. This could be good, as extra time to game plan for opponents is always a good thing. But it could also be bad, as such an extended period of time without playing in an actual game could be a difficult adjustment for the Bengals.

While Cincinnati may have defeated Houston in the two teams’ 2014 matchup, the Bengals will always have beef with the Texans for knocking Cincinnati out of the playoffs in consecutive year. And while the Texans’ quarterback situation may be iffy now, there’s a lot of time for Bill O’Brien’s team to figure out what it is going to do on offense between now and Week 10. The Texans just released Ryan Mallett and brought back T.J. Yates, the quarterback who defeated Cincinnati in the 2010-2011 playoffs as Mallett’s replacement as the backup quarterback. Brian Hoyer will likely start at quarterback in this game, barring injury.

None of this could matter in three weeks, and the Bengals may end up smashing the Texans in a decisive home victory, but this game still looms as a dangerous trap game. The Texans could potentially be in the playoff hunt if the Indianapolis Colts continue to struggle, so they could have a lot more to play for if the Bengals rattle off consecutive in their next two games. This isn’t the scariest game of the season, but the Bengals will still need to be wary of this matchup.

Next: Week 11: at Arizona Cardinals