Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Houston Texans (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (4-1 SU, 3-2
ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, October 18, 2009, Paul Brown Stadium,
Cincinnati, Ohio, TV: CBS

by Badger of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Texans +4.5/Bengals -4.5
Over/Under: 45

Before the season started if I would have told you that this
weekends AFC clash between the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals
in Paul Brown Stadium would feature one team in solid playoff
contention after five weeks and the other team fighting to save their
coachs job, few if any would have predicted it would be the 4-1
Bengals sitting in the drivers seat and the Texans and coach Gary
Kubiak thumbing for a ride.

The frying pan is especially hot for Kubiak this week following the Texans 28-21 loss to Arizona on Sunday, since Kubiak called for an
inside handoff on 4th-and-goal instead of a play with more options.

Regardless, the loss moved the Texans to 2-3 and three full games
behind the Colts in the AFC South standings, so Kubiak and the Texans
need to turn the ship around before its sails on the season.

But theyll have to do it against the hottest team in the NFL right
now, the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are one lucky tip-drill
touchdown away from being undefeated this season, as they turned in
another solid performance in a 17-14 victory over the Baltimore
Ravens on Sunday.

Best of all, the Bengals notched three of their four wins on the road so far, and the game against the Texans opens a three-game homestand
for the Bengals to try and strengthen their grip on first place in
the AFC North.

The oddsmakers in Las Vegas opened the game with the Bengals as 4-point favorites at home, and enough early money has come to the
window to move the line up the hook to Cincinnati -4.5 at most
offshore sportsbooks and even -5.5 at the Mirage and Hilton in Las

The over/under total opened at 45 and has held firm, with only the
Hilton listing a different number on their board (45.5).

Cincinnati isnt as flashy on offense as their flamboyant receiver
Chad Ochocinco would like, but they seem to have mastered the art of
the late come-from-behind winning drive. For three straight weeks the
Bengals have put together a drive into scoring position when it was
needed, with last weeks stunner over the Ravens coming with 27
second left in the game.

As a unit the Bengals rank a middle of the pack 18th in total offense (335.4 ypg), but a revamped and rededicated running game (126.6 ypg
9th) has the Bengals lingering around until late into the game and
its allowing quarterback Carson Palmer to operate comfortably in the
two-minute drill.

The Texans offense has been very pass-oriented in the early going this season, relying on quarterback Matt Schaub and receiver Andre
(273.6 ypg passing 5th) to make up for a lack of a running
game (75.4 ypg 30th). It has worked against Oakland and Tennessee
(the two Texans victories), but the one-dimensional attack doesnt
work against good teams (Arizona, Jets and Jacksonville).

The Bengals have enjoyed a renewed energy on defense this season, but
truth be told the unit is doing a good job of playing the bend-but-
dont-break scheme. Overall the are 17th in total defense (327.6
ypg), but their rank improves drastically up to 9th in the league by
allowing just 18 points per game.

The Texans have never really had a defense and this year is no different. The unit is 23rd overall (362.8 ypg) and gives up large
real estate on the ground (140.6 ypg 26th), so theyve got a long
way to go if they hope to get back into the playoff picture in the
coming weeks.

The Bengals have won three of the four meetings in the head-to-head series, but all three of those wins came during the 2003 season or
earlier. The Texans won the meeting last October, a 35-6 victory at
home in Reliant Stadium as 9-point favorites.

The history on the field between these two teams is so short its
nearly impossible to get a significant betting trend from the small
sample. Cincinnati holds a slight 3-1 SU advantage, but the rest of
the data (2-2 ATS, 2-2 O/U) is right down the middle. The Texans did
cover the point spread in their last visit to Paul Brown Stadium,
losing 1 16-10 decision but covering the number as 10-point underdogs.

Badgers Pick: I really like what the Bengals have done, and are
doing, so far this season. But I cant get past the value here on the
underdog Texans, getting as many as 5.5 points depending on where you
wager. This is a gut pick, but Im taking the road-dog Texans plus
5.5-points here.