The keyword in today's Houston vs. Cincinatti playoff match is ugly.
Don't expect the kind of sleek, finesse passing attacks you routinely get in NFL games these days. Houston and Cincinatti are all about punishing defenses keeping the score low so their rag-tag offenses can eke out a TD or two. Using this ragged formula, both teams, against pre-season predictions, staggered into the playoffs--and it wasn't pretty.
It won't be pretty today either. Cincinatti is really in trouble. Look at the main hurdles--playing on the road and its offense riding on the shaky shoulders of two rookies, QB Andy Dalton, who's been ailing with the flu all week, and receiver AJ Green. The Bengals shouldn't even be in the playoffs. They backed in, with all the dominos falling into place.
Houston isn't in much better shape, lugging a three-game losing streak and depending on an inexperienced QB, TJ Yates, with a bum shoulder. If Yates falters, they slip a notch--down to Jake Delhomme. Houston's offense--what there is of it--will be mostly the running of Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
The oddsmakers are basicaly split down the middle on this one. Who will win? Whichever has the defense that squashes the weaker offense. Not much to pick from but give the nod to the Bengals. That's because it's hard to imagine a team with such pitiful QBs--Houston--winning a playoff game.