The Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) still have their destiny in their own hands, but after last week’s devastating buzzer-beating loss to the Cowboys in Ohio that snapped a four game winning streak, a win in tonight’s game against the struggling Philadelphia Eagles is a must for Marvin Lewis’s men if they are to reach the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
One of the major obstacles the Bengals must overcome is complacency – throughout their history, the Bengals simply haven’t been able to be complacent as they’ve barely ever been good enough to beat anybody, though they boast a 4-3 winning record against the Eagles in Philadelphia and own the all-time series 7-3-1. The Eagles showed last week with their walk off victory over the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay that while they might not have any playoff aspirations remaining after a seven game slide, they have a lot of talent, and many of their playing and coaching staff are now performing with their jobs on the line, such as Andy Reid, the longest tenured coach in the league, and backup quarterback Nick Foles who has shown brief flashes in relief of the injured and clapped out, concussed Michael Vick.
This is a game I've been looking forward to for months. I've picked the Texans quite a bit this season. Despite being one of the best teams in the NFL, they continue to cover point spreads as a favorite. That mettle will be put to the test this week when they travel for a tough road game.
MarketsThe look-ahead line had the Patriots favored by -5. After the weekend they re-opened them at -4.5. Fast forward to today and we've seen somewhat of a surprising move on New England. Right now the line sits at -5.5 (odds from SBRforum).
The Houston Texans (11-1) face what is almost certainly their toughest challenge of the year. The Texans head to New England to face the 9-3 Patriots. The game is a matchup between one of the best defences and one of the best offenses in the league.
The New England Patriots do not rank in the top five in total passing or rushing but their combined numbers give them the number one total offense in the NFL. New England’s potency comes from all-pro quarterback, Tom Brady and emerging second-year running back, Stevan Ridley. Ridley has already gone over 1,000 yards and his emergence has given the Patriots their first real ground-threat since Corey Dillon. Brady, already arguably the best quarterback over the past few years, has only been helped by Ridley. Defences can no longer sell-out on the pass, giving Brady more time in the po9cket and potential gaps in coverage.
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots Matchups: Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Patriots Offense vs. J.J. Watt and Texans Defense
The New England Patriots welcome The Houston Texans to a rainstorm in Gillette Stadium on Monday Night Football. This match of the top two teams in the AFC is a possible preview of the AFC Championship. On Monday, the fate of home field advantage through the playoffs could be decided. The Patriots trail the Texans for home field advantage in the playoffs, and a win would put them closer to taking that advantage, and having this contest at home has to be comforting, despite the 80% chance of rain and high wind on Monday night.
Tom Brady and Weapons vs. The Secondary
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots Matchups: Arian Foster, Andre Johnson Texans Offense vs. Patriots Defense
The Houston Texans prepare to travel to Gillette Stadium and face The New England Patriots in a huge playoff preview on Monday Night Football. The Patriots are happy to have this game at home, in what could be the tiebreaker for home field advantage. The Texans are the one of the leagues best road teams, and will not be intimidated against Tom Brady or the bad weather. A win for Houston would give them a 2 game lead with 3 games left in the season.
Arian Foster vs. The Front Seven
The Texans offense focuses on a power running game lead by Arian Foster. Foster leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns, and is 5th in yardage, trailing Adrian Peterson by 344 yards. Foster is only 36 yards behind Marshawn Lynch for 2nd, and facing 29th ranked Patriots rushing defense he will be looking for a big day. Foster is a bigger back with a violent running style and great speed, all traits that should help if this is a rainy game in Foxboro. Houston runs more out of two tight end sets than anyone in the league, using it to both pound the power run, and work down the field to their tight ends on play action.