NFL Betting Picks: Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
NRG Field – Houston, Texas
Sunday, November 23, 2014, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Houston -1
Current Line: Houston -1 1/2

Opening Total: 44
Current Total: 43 1/2
Opening Money Line: Texans -125 / Bengals +105
Current Money Line: Texans -125 / Bengals +105

The Texans host the Bengals Sunday in a key AFC match-up.
The Texans host the Bengals Sunday in a key AFC match-up.

The 6-3-1 Cincinnati Bengals and 5-5 Houston Texans are both in the thick of the AFC playoff race as they face each other Sunday in Houston. The Bengals are in the first place in the AFC North over the 7-4 Pittsburgh Steelers and 6-4 Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Houston is in second in the AFC South behind the 6-4 Indianapolis Colts.

Since 2002, Houston leads the series 5-3 against Cincinnati. The Texans have won 5 straight games against the Bengals. Houston and Cincinnati met in wild card playoff games in Houston in 2012 and 2013. The 2013 game was the last time the two teams played and the Texans won 19-13.

Cincinnati is coached by Marvin Lewis. The Bengals tied the Carolina Panthers 37-37 at home. Cincinnati has road losses at the New England Patriots 43-17 and Indianapolis Colts 27-0, plus a home loss to the Cleveland Browns 24-3. The Bengals have won 3 of their last 4 games. Cincinnati has home wins over the Atlanta Falcons 24-10, Titans 33-7,  Baltimore Ravens 27-24 and the Jaguars 33-23, and on the road against the Ravens 23-16 and New Orleans Saints 27-10 last week. Cincinnati is 5-4-1 ATS and the total is 4-6 this season. The Bengals were an 8.5 point underdog against New Orleans and the total was 51.

Houston is coached by Bill O’Brien. The Texans have road losses at the New York Giants 30-17, Dallas Cowboys 20-17 in overtime, Pittsburgh Steelers 30-23, plus home losses to the Indianapolis Colts 33-28 and Philadelphia Eagles 31-21. Houston has home wins over the Washington Redskins 17-6 and Buffalo Bills 23-17, along with road wins at the Oakland Raiders 30-14, Tennessee Titans 30-16 and last week at the Cleveland Browns 23-7. The Texans are 6-4 ATS and the total is 6-4 this season. Houston was a 4.5 point underdog at Cleveland the total was 42.

Cincinnati is outscoring teams 22.4-22.1 this season. The Bengals are averaging 346 yards per game on offense including 222 passing and 124 rushing yards per game. Cincinnati is #9 in rushing. The Bengals are allowing 386 yards per game on defense including 250 passing and 136 rushing yards. Cincinnati is #28 in both total and rush defense. The Bengals are 52/135 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 63/154. Cincinnati has 13 sacks and has allowed 13 this season. The Bengals have allowed 1 defensive touchdown this season. Cincinnati is +1 in turnovers.

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton has completed 61.7% of his passes for 2,180 yards with 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, plus 35 carries for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. Running back Jeremy Hill has 113 carries for 556 yards with 5 touchdowns, along with 16 catches for 159 yards. Giovani Bernard has 109 carries for 446 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 22 catches for 179 yards. Bernard is probable with a hip injury after missing the last 3 games. Receiver Mohamed Sanu has 44 catches for 671 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 40 rushing yards and a touchdown pass. A.J. Green has 29 catches for 508 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Jermaine Gresham has 38 catches for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns. Six defensive players are listed as questionable or out.

Houston is outscoring teams 23-20 this season. The Texans are #9 in points allowed. Houston is averaging 354 yards per game on offense including 210 passing and 145 rushing yards. The Texans are #3 in rushing and #28 in passing. On defense, Houston is allowing 390 yards per game including 278 passing and 111 rushing yards. Houston is #31 in total defense and #30 in pass defense. The Texans are 56/143 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 54/146. Houston has forced 21 sacks and allowed 20 this season. Houston has 4 defensive touchdowns this season. The Texans are +8 in turnovers.

Last week, the Texans benched quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of Ryan Mallett. Mallett threw for 211 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception against Cleveland. Fitzpatrick completed 61.8% of his passes for 1,960 yards with 11 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 36 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown.

Running back Arian Foster has 161 carries for 822 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 26 carries for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is doubtful with a groin injury. Alfred Blue has 104 carries for 390 yards, along with 6 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins has 46 catches for 764 yards and 4 touchdowns. Andre Johnson has 55 catches for 631 yards and a touchdown. Damaris Johnson has 18 catches for 218 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Garrett Graham has 14 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown. Four defensive players are on the injury report for the Texans along with three offensive linemen.

Cincinnati is 3-1-1 ATS after a cover, 13-5 after allowing 15 points or less, 5-2-1 in November, 7-3 after allowing 90 rushing yards or less, 1-3-1 against AFC teams, 1-4 in week 12, and 1-4-1 on grass.

Houston is 8-2-1 ATS after a straight up win of 14 points or more, 5-2 against AFC teams, 12-5-1 after allowing 15 points or less, 2-5 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, 3-9 at home, 2-6 in November, 2-8 after a straight up win, 1-4 against teams with winning road records, 2-11 after a cover, and 1-7 after rushing for over 150 yards. The Texans have covered the last 6 games against the Bengals.

Both of these teams are too inconsistent to be considered a serious threat in the playoffs even if they make it. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton usually performs well in 1:00 pm Eastern kickoffs but not so much in late afternoon or prime time. Still I think the Texans’ defense led by J.J. Watt will be the difference in a close Houston win.

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