Keys to Victory: Bengals Edition
Patrick D. Starr
The Houston Texans are on the brink of something big, not since 1993 that city of Houston has experienced, playoff football. The city of Houston has been waiting for a winner to grace the football field since the Texans came back in 2002.
Games still need to be played and the Texans are traveling to Cincinnati to tangle with the Bengals. The Bengals have exceeded expectations in 2011 and are sitting in the playoff hunt at 7-5. It will be a tough test with the good guys traveling to the "Jungle". It will be interesting how the Texans react in the cold weather of Ohio, but the way the Texans have been playing it would be hard to bet against them.
Here are keys for the Texans on Sunday:
1. Protect T.J. Yates and when we say protect him we are talking blocking and the offensive game plan. The offensive staff did a great job of putting Yates in situations to succeed and that should be a base for what the Texans could become. Yates in one game proved he can do the little things to be good as a NFL quarterback, like throw the ball out-of-bounds or scramble when needed. Expect Yates to continue his success, but at a controlled rate.
2. The offensive line has to get back to moving people off the line of scrimmage and with a healthy Lawrence Vickers back, he could help the cause. The offensive line has not been looking as good as they did at the beginning of the year. Vickers, according to the coaches, is a full go this weekend after hurting his hamstring against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers which made him miss 2 games. The Texans are a run first offense and it is time to get back to what makes them successful, running the ball efficiently and getting big chunks of yards.
3. Arian Foster needs only 84 rushing yards to hit the 1,000 yard plateau for the 2nd season in a row. Foster worked hard for his yardage last week against Atlanta, and this week should not be much different. The Bengals boast the 6th best rushing defense in the league. The Texans must establish the run to open the passing game. The offense will rest on Foster's legs and they will be more than needed on Sunday.
4. With Andre Johnson out of the game with a hamstring injury and Kevin Walter questionable with an illness, there is a possibility that Jacoby Jones, Derrick Mason and Bryant Johnson will be the wide receivers on Sunday. Jones is the only one with true experience at the wide receiver position, Mason and B.Johnson were added during the season. Those three will play a big part in the Texans success on offense, and they need to provide Yates sure hands in the passing game.
5. The two big keys defensively has to be Johnathan Joseph covering A.J. Green and the front 7s ability to put hits on quarterback Andy Dalton. Joseph will have the task of covering one of the best your receivers in the game, and he will get to do it against his old team. Expect a big day from Joseph, especially with his recent play.
As for Andy Dalton the Texans need to hit him early and often and get him moving in the pocket. Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt must pin their ears back and get to Dalton. The Texans have been creating pressure with four man rushes all season, and with this being another big game expect nothing less from the defense.