Texans vs. Bengals Odds & Picks: Houston Can Exploit Cincinnati Letdown
Bob Levey/Getty Images. PIctured: Deshaun Watson
Texans vs. Bengals Odds
The Cincinnati Bengals (3-10-1) visit the Houston Texans (4-10) for a Week 16 matchup between two teams looking toward (hopefully) promising 2021 seasons.
Can Deshaun Watson and the Texans take advantage of one of the few matchups this season that has them as the clear favorite?
The Bengals are limping to the end of the season. Quarterback Joe Burrow (knee) has been out since Week 11, and they’ll be without wide receiver Tyler Boyd (concussion), linebacker Jordan Evans (hamstring), linebacker Logan Wilson (ankle) and backup center B.J. Finney (abdomen).
There’s also quarterback uncertainty for Cincinnati, with both Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley listed as possible starters.
Allen is off the injury report, but has been uninspiring with fantasy QB27, QB27 and QB23 performances in his three starts. Finley did quarterback the Bengals in their Week 15 upset of Pittsburgh, but completed only seven passes for 89 yards.
Regardless of the quarterback, Cincinnati’s offensive line will provide little protection. The Bengals have allowed 48 sacks, second-most this season.
And without Boyd, the Bengals receiving core is limited to rookie Tee Higgins and veteran A.J. Green.
Higgins has enjoyed a strong rookie season with 61 receptions, 809 receiving yards, and five touchdowns. However, he’s slowed severely without Burrow, posting just the WR50, WR44 and WR70 stat lines the past three weeks.
The 32-year-old Green is coming to the end of his Bengals career, and has just one top-20 performance since Week 7.
The Cincinnati defense is unlikely to provide any relief for the offense, with the second-fewest sacks (16) in the league.
The Texans should be able to put forth a strong effort at home, entering this game relatively healthy. The only major injury concerns are running back Duke Johnson (neck, out) and cornerback Phillip Gaines (knee, questionable).
Lead running back David Johnson is coming off his best performance of the season, with 11 receptions and 133 total yards. He has a strong matchup against a Cincinnati defense that has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Watson is in a blowup spot against a Bengals team traveling on a short week. Cincinnati ranks 31st in quarterback pressure rate, and Watson is first among at the position in clean pocket completion percentage (PlayerProfiler).
Watson is also first in yards per attempt (8.8) and is averaging 321.1 passing yards per game at home in 2020.
Houston’s wide receiver core is now back to relative strength, with Brandin Cooks and Keke Coutee both ready to roll. Coutee has come on strong since the suspension of Will Fuller, with 16 catches in the past three games.
Cooks returned from a foot injury last week, catching six of seven targets for 59 yards. The Texans have even seen production from 26-year-old Chad Hansen, who has 14 receptions and a touchdown in the past three games.
The Texans’ defense has struggled all season, but the one thing they can still do in pressure the quarterback. Houston ranks 10th in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.
Against either Finley or Allen, that should translate to turnovers.
This is a classic letdown spot for the Bengals after their massive upset of their division rival in the Steelers. Coming off a short week with injuries to Boyd and uncertainty at quarterback, this has all the makings of a Texans win.
I’m laying the big number with Houston at home. Look for Watson to have one of his best games of the season against Cincinnati’s limited pass rush.
Pick: Texans -7 (to -8)