The Cincinnati Bengals head to Houston to face off against the Texans on Saturday Night Football. We talk with Josh McSwain of ToroTimes.com to find out the Texans fan mindset going into tonight’s match up.
Stripe Hype: The Houston Texans have had the Cincinnati Bengals’ number six of the last seven match up’s. What have the Texans been able to do to beat the Bengals year in and year out?
Josh McSwain: For most of those matchups, J.J. Watt was there. He was able to get pressure on Andy Dalton and force him into making mistakes, most notably in the two playoff games. The defense as a whole kept Andy Dalton and A.J. Green in check and the offense was able to do just enough in those games.
SH: Tom Savage will make his first NFL start of his career. I had a chance to see him play at the University of Pittsburgh, but what do the Texans see in him that gives them the edge on Saturday night?
JM: A few things were apparent with Savage last week—first he has a much quicker release than Osweiler does. Second, he reads defenses faster and third he doesn’t force passes where they don’t belong. He doesn’t have the arm strength that Osweiler does and certainly not the contract or expectations, but at this point in time the coaches felt he gave the team a better chance to win and I agree.
SH: DeAndre Hopkins is no where near where he was last season. Has he taken a step back or is it truly the reflection of the quarterback play in Houston? Will it turn around with Savage at quarterback?
JM: I think there are multiple reasons why Hopkins has not produced like he did last season. First is Osweiler. The quarterbacks last season force fed Hopkins the ball because there was no other option and they at least gave him a chance to come down with it and he did most of the time.
Second is Lamar Miller. This is not a bad thing though because the presence of a legit running game has allowed the Texans offense more versatility; and Miller gets involved in the passing game. Third is the emergence of the tight ends. C.J. Fiedorowicz has really come around as a receiver and Ryan Griffin has proven to be a capable replacement in his stead, as he did last week.
SH: Who is the dark horse player to watch on Saturday for the Texans?
JM: I just have a feeling about Andre Hal this week. The former corner converted to free safety this season for his ball skills, but has not had the same caliber of a year that he did last year. Against a team that is out of the playoffs and may take some chances, I think he gets his hands on an interception in this one.
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JM: There is some uncertainty I have going into this game. As we saw on Thursday night, these teams that have nothing to play for can disrupt plans of a contending team. With a team as talented as the Bengals, that is a possibility.
The Texans are starting Tom Savage for the first time, which means Lamar Miller should carry the load in this one, and against the 26th ranked Bengals rushing defense he should have a big day. DeAndre Hopkins caught the only touchdown in the meeting last season and I think he could have a breakout game with Savage at the helm in this one.
Andy Dalton will likely determine how this game goes, the Houston native has struggled against the Texans in the past and I think the Texans keep him under raps enough to pull out a 20-16 win.
Head over to Toro Times to see what we had to say about the Bengals at Texans match up.