Bengals vs Texans: 3 Things To Watch For

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The Bengals and Texans are set for battle on Christmas Eve. This is Cincinnati’s chance to play the spoiler and make things harder for Houston.

As the 2016 season winds down, Bengals fans are assuredly looking for something to be positive about. Hopefully, after a week of holiday festivities and good cheer, the Bengals will be able to deliver an early Christmas Eve present to Cincinnati faithful. What seems like a ho-hum matchup could be a bit of a war Saturday night. The Houston Texans will welcome the Bengals to NRG Stadium for what’s becoming an annual showdown between these teams.

A promising season could be salvaged with a win over the Texans. But, it’s not going to be an easy test for the Bengals.Cincinnati has struggled with Houston and will be without a few key players. WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict is definitely out. After suffering a gruesome helmet-to-helmet collision with David Decastro, Burfict was out for the majority of the first half.

When the second half started, Vontaze was back on the field and looked fine. During the week, he reported having symptoms of a concussion and has been placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol. 

After disappearing in the Steelers game, Tyler Eifert won’t suit up. Clint Boling and Tyler Kroft are also listed as out. Jeremy Hill, Michael Johnson, and A.J. Green are listed as questionable. But, Green has been itching to play.

"“I’m not the type of guy to shut it down just to bail out on my team because we are not having the season we wanted to have,” Green insisted, per The Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s a cowardly move to me. If I’m healthy, I’m going to play. And I feel like I’m healthy enough to play this week.”"

Whether Green suits up or not, here are some things to watch for on Saturday night.

Zampese’s Offense

Amazingly, the numbers are very close to last year’s stats. The running game is averaging 111.9 yards a game. That’s just a hair under last season’s 112.8 mark. Unfortunately, the Bengals aren’t putting up the points with regularity. Against the Steelers, the running game disappeared in the second half. In fact, the entire offense went on hiatus for the last 30 minutes of the contest. 

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If Zampese wants to get Bengals faithful on his bandwagon, he’ll have to come out with barrels blazing. The Texans are sound on defense ( ranked No. 1 in the NFL), and playing well without J.J. Watt. Jadeveon Clowney has been filling in well for the injured Watt. The Bengals’ O-line will have to kick things up a notch.

Zampese may not have the luxury of Hill or Green. It’s time to dig into his bag of “real” NFL plays and get things in gear. Marvin Lewis has vowed to have the Bengals playing to win, over the last two games. This should be step number one in the offensive coordinator’s effort to clean things up. The offense needs to flow and have ball control…for 60 minutes.

The Spoiler Factor

It’s just as simple as it sounds. With the Bengals being home for the playoffs, it’s time to play the spoiler role. The Texans are in the thick of a postseason race. This is the perfect opportunity for Lewis and Co. to make it a bit harder for Houston. That’s what makes the end of the season fun for teams that are eliminated. Knocking the contenders down a notch is…the American way. It’s all about the underdog.

Next: Savage To Make First NFL Start

The New Kids On The Block

Cincinnati will be facing Tom Savage in his first NFL start. The Bengals have a tendency to make newcomers look like superstars. Savage isn’t a household name but he could easily become one if the Bengals are not prepared. Paul Guenther’s defense has to be ready for what the Texans are willing to do. With the playoffs on the line, look for Houston to dial up the heat on offense. Savage has already promised he’s going to let it rip. Dre Kirkpatrick can’t have another error-filled performance. The Bengals won’t have Burfict’s intensity to feed on. Nick Vigil could get the nod or Vincent Rey.

The season isn’t over. It’s about winning while developing the youngsters.

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