Game Preview

Thursday Night Football Preview: Houston vs. Cincinnati

Thursday Night Football Preview

Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals (-6), O/U 38.0

Last week’s Thursday Night matchup between the Chiefs and Patriots was arguably one of the best games of week one. However, both of those teams had all off-season to prepare for the matchup. That’s not the case for the Texans and Bengals playing this week. Traditionally short weeks and nagging injuries mean sloppy football and lower scoring. This could lead to a disappointing game as both participants struggled in their opening contests. However, you never know who’s going to show up on Thursday’s and with neither team wanting to drop to 0-2 so quickly into the 2017 NFL Season, we might be in for a better game than most are expecting.

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Cincinnati Bengals

Thursday Night Football Preview

It would be hard for the Bengals to be sloppier than they were last week. Andy Dalton broke a lot of hearts with four interceptions and a fumble lost. He completed roughly 52% of his passes for just 170 yards. Dalton has had some highs and lows throughout his career, but this start should have many concerned. Dalton would have a hard time being worse than he was in week one, but a Thursday night matchup on a short week could test that. Nevertheless, I’m expecting Dalton to bounce back and have a respectable game of 220+ yards. Scoring should be down so the touchdown passes might not come in great chunks, but he should throw for his first in this contest.

Joe MixonJoe Mixon was the Belle of the Ball through the offseason. He was the darling of the Bengals backfield after Cincinnati grabbed him in the NFL draft in April. Mixon has some great upside, but there is cause for concern after a slow preseason and a terrible Week 1. He had just nine yards on eight carries. Considering he had a long run of eight yards, that means the remaining seven carries only produced a single yard.  If you are playing a Bengals running back in fantasy, you start Giovani Bernard. Bernard turned seven carries into 40 yards and added a 39-yard reception. Bernard is the clear leader in this backfield, for now. Mixon will pass him eventually, but today is not that day. Jeremy Hill continues to slide in value.

A.J. Green put up average numbers last week. His ten targets were more than any other two players. He caught just 50% of his targets and gained 74 yards. The hope is that John Ross will be able to go and that should free up some of the coverage to assist in boosting those catch numbers. Green needs to find the end zone in this game for the Bengals to be successful. Expect good numbers again and double digit targets as well.

The 20-0 score last week did not tell the full story. The defense only gave up 268 yards to the Ravens. It was a decent game defensively, though there was only one sack and one interception of Joe Flacco. Facing Deshaun Watson should be a slightly easier challenge.

Houston Texans

Thursday Night Football Preview

The Texans were hosts to a coming out party for Leonard Fournette last week. Now we also have word that starting linebacker Brian Cushing will be suspended for ten games due to PED use. Either Fournette is absolutely as good or better than advertised, or the Houston defense is losing steam. With all that and the 29-7 defeat, Houston needs to turn things around quickly.

Deshaun Watson is now going to start. It seems like the Texans were very much hoping to bring him along more slowly, but there was no time for a coaching staff that he continually failed to deliver on potential. Watson led the Texans to their first touchdown of 2017. He found DeAndre Hopkins on a short pass on the opening drive of the second half. That was all there was. Watson had a pick later in the game as well. Both Tom Savage and Watson completed roughly 50% of their passes and had QB ratings in the 60s.

DeAndre Hopkins is the only interesting receiver right now. Will Fuller is still out at this time. C.J. Fiedorowicz is out as well. on the 32 pass attempts between Savage and Watson, 16 were targeted at Hopkins. Do not expect that to change much.  Hopkins is going to be one of the highest targeted players in football this year.

Lamar Miller ended up with 96 yards from scrimmage (65 rushing and 31 on two receptions). While many people were showing interest in D’onta Foreman early, it was Tyler Ervin who got second fiddle status. Ervin (the second-year player from San Jose State) had five targets, good enough for second on the team. He also handled the lone kick return of the game for Houston. More of a dynasty play, he only has value in very deep leagues in redraft.

The Game

Expect this to be a low scoring game. Neither team was able to get any traction on offense last week and it’ll take a few quarters this week. While the spread and the Over/Under suggest a 21-17 type game, expect it to be closer to 17-10 with the Bengals victorious. Hopkins and Green will feature prominently. Giovani Bernard will do better than Miller, and that could be the difference.

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