2015 has been a record breaking year for the Cincinnati Bengals.
They stand eight wins without loss with triumphs over; Oakland, San Diego, Baltimore, Kansas City, Seattle, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
Andy Dalton will be looking to increase his team’s record to 9-0 on Monday night.
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Cincinnati’s opponents this week are the Houston Texans who, coming out of their bye, are 3-5 this season. Once again they are without star running back Arian Foster who, after a short return, is back on the injury reserve list.
The Texans have won three of their last four games when coming out of their bye week. However, these wins didn’t exactly come against top class in-form opposition like the Bengals. Instead they came against the Cleveland Browns in ’14, the Buffalo Bills in ’12 and the Jacksonville Jaguars in ’11.
The Bengals posses a top quality offensive line, a decent defence and high calibre, and balanced offence.
As always, Houston’s biggest weapon is defensive linesman J.J. Watt. The MVP runner-up already has 8.5 sacks this season.
The Bengals' O-line is a formidable one, but Watt is so versatile that he could basically be played anywhere in the defence to gain access to the quarterback.
Bengal’s offensive line coach, Paul Alexander, has said that he will primarily mark the future hall of famer one-on-one and try to get Dalton to focus on quick plays.
Speaking to Bengals.com, Alexander had this to say about his line’s impending match up against Watt:
"We didn't put five guys on him. We put one guy on him. We played the way we play. We put one guy on him.
"A couple plays we put two guys on him. But 95 percent of the game we put one guy on him. That's how we play."
Both sides boast top wide receivers that warrant double coverage. Were both sides to instruct their defences to put two markers on either DeAndre Hopkins or A.J. Green, the Bengals wide-out would be expected to outperform Hopkins.
Although Hopkins has 870 receiving yards and six touchdowns, compared to Green’s 702 yards with four TDs, the Texans man has only hauled in 49.6% of his 113 targets, whereas A.J. has caught 68.5% of his 73 targets.
If both receivers are so tightly covered that they’re almost un-targetable then Cincinnati will still have the upper hand.
Marvin Jones is probably good enough to be a number one receiver at a lot of NFL teams and has put in some big games this season, when Green has been incapacitated. The Texans’ Nate Washington however is certainly a number two receiver, as is Cecil Shorts.
The Bengals also host a superior running game. The committee of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard greatly trumps that of Alfred Blue and Chris Polk.
Blue’s only touchdown came when Ryan Mallett was at QB and Polk’s only score came when the Texans were 42-7 down to the Atlanta Falcons.
To top it all off Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton also has the mighty Tyler Eifert to pass to, who currently leads the NFL in tight end touchdowns with nine, Rob Gronkowski currently has 7.
Houston is pretty good at limiting wide receivers this season and are pretty average on their tight end defence, but are one of the worst in the league against the rush, highlighted against the Falcons when Devonta Freeman scored a hat-trick of touchdowns.
The Cincinnati Bengals are expected to continue their unbeaten run come Monday night. It’s very hard to see the Houston Texans pulling off the kind of offensive performance needed to match Andy Dalton and all of his weapons.