The AFC Wildcard game kicks off this week at 4:30 pm EST when the Cincinnati Bengals vs Houston Texans kick off on NBC. The Houston Texans limp into this game after losing the season finale to the Indianapolis Colts and now will have to play this week and host the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals.
Cincinnati Bengals vs Houston Texans Odds: The opening line for the AFC Wildcards has the Texans listed as (-5) point favorites and that number has since dropped down to as low as (-4) points with early action coming in on the Bengals.
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The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the hottest teams entering the NFL playoffs. Since the bye week at the end of October, the Bengals went on to win seven of the last nine football games to end the season. That streak includes winning six of the last seven and going a perfect 4-0 on the NFL highway.
This type of play has Bengal backers excited for the upset.
— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) December 30, 2012
The streak is powered by an improving offense led by quarterback Andy Dalton and standout wide receiver AJ Green. Dalton to Green has become one of the deadliest duos in the NFL and will be hard for any defense to slow down. Speaking of defense, the Bengals defense deserves some credit for how they have played down the stretch.
Before the Baltimore game the Bengals defense was allowing an average of just 12.1 points and 272.0 yards in the last 7 games, both ranking first in NFL since Week 10. The defense notched a franchise-record 51 sacks led by defensive tackle Geno Atkins (13) and will harass Matt Schaub all day long.
The Bengals now bring that ferocious defense into a playoff game where they are also motivated by revenge.
The Bengals were crushed a year ago in the playoffs by the Texans losing 31-10. It was the first go around for a few rookies like Dalton and Green and that game will help them prepare for this outing.
The Texans have to be reeling. Less than a month ago the Texans looked like a lock to get a bye and the top spot in the AFC and now they have to play a wild card game. Quarterback Matt Schaub is struggling over that time span throwing just one touchdown vs. 3 interceptions. This will allow the Bengals to focus on the run and stop Arian Foster.
The Bengals are 8-3 ATS on the road after a win against the Ravens, 5-0 ATS in the last five games against the AFC and 7-1 ATS in the last eight games overall. The Texans are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall and the slide continues as the Texans lose to the Bengals in the AFC Wildcard game.
2013 NFL Playoff Picks Against the Spread