NFL Picks Week 14: Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, 12/11/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Cincinnati -3
Current Betting Line:  Cincinnati -3
Opening Total:  37.5
Current Total:  38
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

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The Cincinnati Bengals are still alive in the AFC playoff race despite losing three of four games

Houston will put its six-game win streak on the line Sunday and potentially clinch the AFC South division in the process.  The Texans need to register a victory and hope for the Tennessee Titans to fall to the New Orleans Saints in order to accomplish that feat.  Injuries is the main concern surrounding the franchise, as many key players have been lost for the season, while rookie quarterback T.J. Yates is set to make his second career NFL start.  He threw for 188 yards in his debut last week in a 17-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons as three-point home underdogs.  Houston is 4-2 ATS on the road this season.

The Texans certainly have a defense that can pull off the slight upset according to the betting odds, ranking second in surrendering just 274.1 yards per game.  Creating a few turnovers could definitely create some momentum for the visitors, ranking third with a +12 turnover ratio through 13 games of the season.  Offensively, the talented backfield of Arian Foster and Ben Tate leads a rushing attack that is averaging 152.6 yards per game on the ground.

Cincinnati is still in the NFL playoff picture despite losing three of four games, including a 35-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers as seven-point underdogs last week.  “One bad game does not define us,” stated Bengals rookie wide receiver A.J. Green.  He happened to score the team’s only touchdown against Pittsburgh’s vaunted defense.  The Bengals possess a solid defense of their own, allowing just 96.3 rushing yards per game, which sits sixth among all teams.  Cincinnati is 0-2 ATS as a home favorite of a field goal or less since the start of the 2009 campaign.

The Bengals need rookie quarterback Andy Dalton to bounce back from a poor performance, hitting on just 11 of 24 passes for 135 yards in last week’s defeat.  He has developed some chemistry with Green over the season, as the two have connected for six scores thus far.  Cincinnati running back Cedric Benson is listed as probable after returning to practice Friday and must play an important part in the offensive game plan.  The team ranks 20th in the league in gaining 108.1 rushing yards per game, going against a defense that sits fourth in giving up just 90.7 yards a contest.

Bettors will likely back the Bengals due to their 3-2 ATS mark as a favorite this year, while the Texans are 1-4 ATS as a road underdog.

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