Houston Texans (2-3) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)
Sunday, October 18th, 12:00 p.m.
Paul Brown Stadium
Kickoff temperature: 53 degrees, sunny
Line: Bengals by 5.5
Trends: Houston has alternated wins and losses through it's last seven games. Cincinnati has won four straight and seven of their last eight.
Three most important things for the Texans defense:
1. Stop Cedric Benson. The Texas native is currently leading the league in rushing and stopping him will make the Bengals a one-dimensional offense.
2. No show for Ocho. Chad Ochocinco loves celebrating and being the focus of the cameras. The Texans defense must keep him off the camera.
3. Hit Palmer. The Bengals offensive line hasn't afforded Carson Palmer great protection this year and he's clearly a different quarterback when he's under duress. The Texans defensive line needs to put some shots on the Bengals franchise quarterback.
Three most important things for the Texans offense:
1. Make them respect the run. The Texans are a pass first offense, but if they can mix in enough big plays by Steve Slaton, they will be able to force the Bengals to play more straight up and that will open up the play-action game.
2. Make Owen a fantasy must-play. One of the matchups that looks good for the Texans is tight end Owen Daniels against the Bengals linebackers and secondary. If Daniels is a big part of the offense, the Texans will have a good shot at taking down the AFC North leaders.
3. Please no turnovers. If it wasn't for untimely mistakes, the Texans could be the ones with the 4-1 record. Matt Schaub needs to be careful with the football, and the Texans ball carriers must as well.
What to look for:
1. First team to 20 wins. This will likely not be a shootout as the Bengals have been playing great defense, and the Texans have as well (in spots).
2. Team with the ball last wins. Carson Palmer has been ripping out the hearts of opponents as the "Cardiac Cats" have become the most clutch team in the game. Matt Schaub and the Texans are capable of similar heroics as they've come close to winning in the final moments twice.
3. Look for Steve Slaton to struggle. The Bengals have been tough against the run and Slaton is having a less than stellar sophomore campaign.
4. Look for Antwan Odom to get a sack. The Bengals leading sacker has eight in five games and he will likely strike again.
5. No dance for Ochocinco. The Texans secondary will keep Chad Ochocinco out of the end zone.