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Pressuring Dalton: The Bengals have one of the best deep threats in the NFL in Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, and the Texans have been susceptible to the deep ball of late. The best way to mitigate that, as defensive end J.J. Watt said this week, is by pressuring quarterback Andy Dalton, who was sacked 46 times this season, third-most in the NFL.
Same game, different year
This is the 4th time under the current playoff format that teams are meeting in the Wild Card round in back-to-back seasons. In each of the previous three instances, the team that won the first game also won the second game.
* Bengals are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall.
* Bengals are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.
* Under is 8-0 in Bengals’ last eight games following a win.
* Under is 4-1 in Texans’ last five games overall.
Line movement: The Texans opened -5 and were bet against, down to as low as -4, before getting some buyback and settling at -4.5 as of Thursday afternoon. The total opened at 43.5 and was at 43 for a few days, until being bet back up to 43.5.
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
Line moves: Texans opened at minus-5, currently minus-4.5
Books says: "One of the things I have done research on lately is the hot factor and how do you end the regular season. It's hot vs. not in this game. Cincy is 7-1 straight up and 7-1 ATS in their last eight games. It's been against poor competition, but they did end hot. Houston has three of their last four and the wheels came off in that New England game. Even when they had something to play for, they couldn't win. So I looked back to 2007, when the Giants beat the Pats in the Super Bowl. They ended that year on a strong note and carried that momentum.
"The next year, the Cardinals won in Week 17 and covered; that carried them as double-digit dogs the next week. Same with the Steelers that year, whom the Cards met in the Super Bowl. The next year, the Seahawks win in the last week and then upset New Orleans in the playoffs. The Packers went to the Super Bowl that year as a hot team. In this game you have one team that has gotten hot and one team that has not. Cincy is 6-2 on the road. Houston has a chance; they are not a horrible team. I think right now teams have figured out how to slow down Houston's passing game. The points loom large here. If I had to predict, I would see small Houston win."