Two of the NFL’s 8-0 teams won on Sunday, and the third undefeated team looks to remain perfect on Monday night. The Cincinnati Bengals host the Houston Texans in what is expected to be a one-sided affair.
Cincinnati is an 11-point favorite against the Texans, who enter the contest at 3-5. Houston won their last game before going on a bye, but all of their wins have come against sub-.500 teams.
The Bengals have a four-game lead in the loss column in the AFC North, but their overall lead was cut to three games with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ win on Sunday. With the Indianapolis Colts idle in Week 10, Houston will be tied for first in the AFC South if they can upset the Bengals.
Cincinnati has been very healthy this season. They are dealing with one injury of note in Week 10, as right tackle Andrew Smith battles a concussion. Smith will miss his second straight game, and Eric Winston will start in his place. The team wasn’t affected much by Smith’s absence last week, still managing to score 31 points against the Cleveland Browns.
Andy Dalton hasn’t suffered a major injury since he was drafted in 2011, and he’ll start his 73rd consecutive game on Monday night. Dalton’s 111.0 passer rating puts him just 0.1 point behind Tom Brady for the No.1 rating in the NFL. He’s coming off his highest-rated performance of the season, in which he completed 21 of 27 passes for 234 yards and three scores. Dalton hasn’t completed less than 60 percent of his passes in any game this season.
Houston is banged up on defense, dealing with injuries to Jadeveon Clowney and Kareem Jackson. Clowney injured his back in Houston’s last game against the Tennessee Titans, and he’s already missed one game this year. Jackson will miss a third straight game with a sprained ankle.
J.J. Watt remains the best defensive player in football, recording 8.5 sacks and 40 tackles in eight games. But Houston’s defense ranks 23rd in points allowed per game, and they’ve struggled against good teams. The Texans have played two games against teams with a winning record, losing 24-17 to the Carolina Panthers and allowing 48 points in their loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Monday marks the second of three straight games in which Cincinnati will be playing in primetime. The game is set to start at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, and a free live stream will be available online with WatchESPN.