NFL Monday Night Preview: Houston vs. Cincinnati

If you look back at some recent “Monday Night Football” games they have been really close and competitive. But that might be the last of them for a while because of the games in Week 10.

There was actually three straight games that were decided in the final minutes, they were exciting match ups that had fans and bettors at the edge of their seats. Monday’s matchup could be the total opposite, where the Houston Texans (3-5) could lose big when they visit Cincinnati and its perfect Bengals who are (8-0).

Excitingly, the Cincinnati Bengals are halfway to a perfect regular season, and there is little doubt that the Bengals can take down a beatable adversary effortlessly. Houston is not doing as well, it’s actually quite the opposite, and they have a huge laundry list of an injury report.

Yet, these Texans can look dangerous if they are not taken too seriously, because they’re still alive in the playoff hunt. It’s basically due to being in one of the worst divisions in NFL history, the AFC South.

The season is now halfway completed, and Cincinnati it seems has wrapped up the AFC North with their faultless start. Their opponent tonight might be one of the worst teams in the NFL, but they’re in the AFC South race and trailing the Indianapolis Colts by only a half-game.

Cincinnati is a huge favorite on the Week 10 schedule extolled by the experts and the over/under is 47.5 points.

Houston Texans’ quarterback Brian Hoyer has been watching a lot of film on the Bengals and he has a clear idea about why their defense has played so perfectly this year:

“You look around and it’s guys that have been in the system for a very long time,” Hoyer said. “The system, obviously [Mike] Zimmer was there, but [Bengals defensive coordinator Paul] Guenther has kept it pretty familiar for those guys and you don’t see them ever screw up anything, really. I think, after watching the film, I’ve seen one play where they might have messed that one up, but everything else, they are very sound, they have a lot of great players and they are going to make you earn every yard.”

Hoyer started two games against the Bengals while playing for the Cleveland Browns. He has a good record against then winning both starts and had a passer rating of 99.6 and a Total QBR of 74.4, completing 65.6 percent of his passes and throwing two touchdowns with no interceptions. But that success against Cincinnati in the past means little to him right now. He knows tonight will be different.

“It’s not really relevant. It was a different team that I was on. Different team for them [too]. I’ve talked about how stable they are. They’ve had a lot of the same guys, but there’s a few other players they had.”

It did help with his preparation, though. He knew what would be in the Bengals scouting report this week and he knows the cast of players well too. He confirmed their defense hadn’t changed, and that was the most important part.

Hoyer has been playing very well lately. He threw 12 touchdowns between Weeks 4 and 8, the fourth most of any quarterback in the NFL. He had the second-most touchdowns in the first eight games of a season in Texans history with 13. And he is aiming for Matt Schaub’s 2009 record of 16, which he would have had, if he been more of a full-time starter this season.

His streak of five games with two or more touchdowns is only topped by one quarterback — his hero and mentor, Tom Brady.

He’ll need some pointers from that mentor if he wants to make an imapct against a tough Bengals defense. They rank fifth in opponent QBR, third in red-zone efficiency against and second in goal-to-go efficiency against. They’ve only allowed 17.8 points per game, which ranks fourth in the NFL.

“They’re 8-0 for a reason,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “One of the reasons why is their front is a very strong front, [Carlos] Dunlap, [Michael] Johnson, Geno Atkins, one of the best three-techniques in the league, so it’s a big challenge. Linebackers are athletic, tough, their top four corners are all first-round draft picks, talented guys, got a lot of respect for this defense and our guys are obviously going to have to be up to that challenge. That’s a heck of an opponent on the other side.”

We think the Texans don’t have what it takes to usurp the Bengals tonight, so we’ll go with Cincinnati to cover the spread.

Our Picks: Bengals over Texans, 38-17