It may come as a bit of a surprise if you haven't really been paying attention, but the Cincinnati Bengals head into their AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Houston Texans with a better record on the road than they have at home. In fact, their 5-3 record away from Paul Brown Stadium is just as good as the Texans' record at Reliant Stadium where Saturday's encounter will be taking place.
Of course, the difference of one win is not exactly statistically significant and it's probably a stretch to say that the Bengals are actually better on the road, but clearly they aren't just falling apart. Bengals blog Cincy Jungle pulled this quote from team captain Andrew Whitworth that makes some attempt to explain the oddity:
"We're the little one most people count out and we come swinging," he said. "That helps you win on the road. If you have that mentality you are not worried about the crowd you are not worried about how good the team is; you are not intimidated."
The Texans, for their part, have identical road and way records (5-3). They have also already shown they can beat the Bengals. Granted, that game on Dec. 11 was played in Cincinnati and was decided by just a single point (20-19), but it was a win nonetheless. Texans blog Battle Red Blog relived that game recently and pointed out that one of the biggest things coach Gary Kubiak did right was trusting rookie quarterback T.J. Yates.
Despite an interception and five allowed sacks, neither Kubiak nor Yates panicked and got conservative. That persistence paid off, as Yates would reward the braintrust's faith in him by delivering a beautiful game-winning drive. The Texans need to remember that and come out willing to throw the ball to loosen up the Cincinnati defense.
No matter how you slice it, these two teams seem to match up pretty well. Interestingly enough, though, the Texans are favored by exactly 3 points, which is usually the automatic advantage oddsmakers give the home team.
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