Nov 1, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer (7) attempts a pass during the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals will take on the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football, so before the game, we had the chance to go behind enemy lines and ask Randy Gurzi, editor of Toro Times, a few questions pertaining to Monday night’s matchup under the lights.
Connor Howe: DeAndre Hopkins is a fantastic player, but its clear that Cincinnati is going to double-team him all game long. If the Bengals overcommit to Hopkins, who is going to step up as the primary playmaker on offense for the Texans?
Randy Gurzi: The tight ends don’t scare people, rookie receiver Keith Mumphery isn’t good and the coaching staff refuses to use Jaelen Strong for some reason, but still there is one guy I have been high on all year.
I was laughed at earlier in the year for saying people need to make sure they don’t sleep on Nate Washington, but I stand by that. With 26 catches, 411 yards and three touchdowns on the year, it’s a wonder he still goes under the radar. Consider this, Washington has missed two games, so his average output per game is 4.33 receptions for 68.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns.
Connor: J.J. Watt has been extremely disruptive throughout his career, notably against the Bengals in the playoffs. He’s obviously going to make an impact, but is there anyone else who could step up and make some plays alongside Watt?
Randy: Whitney Mercilus has been on fire in two of the last three games as he recorded two sacks against Jacksonville and 3.5 against Tennessee. He has been showing much improvement after a slow start, which is nice because I couldn’t tell you if other defensive players like Jadeveon Clowney or Vince Wilfork are ever on the field or not.
Connor: Brian Hoyer is 2-0 against the Bengals, while Andy Dalton is 1-3 vs. Houston (playoffs included). Do you think that Hoyer has the Bengals figured out, or do you see him struggling on Monday night?
Randy: I see him struggling because this isn’t the same Bengals team. They are for real, not that they weren’t before, but this season they are such a complete team. If the run game keeps struggling as it has all season, it will all be on Hoyer. That isn’t a good sign for the Texans against a stout defense.
Connor: The Bengals’ run defense has been an issue throughout the Dalton era and could be their biggest weakness. Which Texans running back will see the bulk of the carries, and do you think that he’ll make a huge difference?
Randy: I honestly can’t say who will get the most carries. My assumption is Alfred Blue, but he simply hasn’t been good this year. He has 273 yards rushing with only a 3.7 yard per carry average and only one touchdown. No one else has been any better though as Houston has had zero push up front. Look for the run defense to perform well against this ho-hum rushing attack.
Connor: Defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Carlos Dunlap lead the league in sacks at their respective positions. Any chance that the Texans’ line can stop the Bengals’ ferocious pass rush?
Randy: The best thing against Dunlap for Houston is that their tackles are their best lineman. The problem? They have to keep moving them around to play guard because of injuries. As for Atkins, no one on the interior is playing great for Houston, so he could be a huge factor. What will help Houston is that Hoyer is pretty mobile and can roll out quite often and remain effective. Houston may need to do this often to keep him upright.
Connor: This game could be a lot more exciting than people expect; the Texans are a pretty talented team. Who’s going to win this one, and what will the score be?
Randy: I think Houston will have a rough night. I know the Texans fans will hate this, but I pick Cincinnati to pull this one out easily in a statement game 31-13. Dalton is looking to prove he won’t fade because the lights are on and the Bengals have struggled with Houston in playoff games in recent history, so they could exercise some demons here.
A huge thanks to Randy for taking the time to talk with us before the game! Be sure to follow him on Twitter if you want to see what’s going on with the Texans, and check out Toro Times for all Texans-related news.