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Bengals at Texans Game Total Prediction and Betting Lines

Cincinnati Bengals(5-8-1) @ Houston Texans(8-6-0)

  • Where: NRG Stadium. Houston, Texas
  • When: December 24, 2016 8:25 pm EST
  • Spread: Bengals +1 (-110) vs. Texans -1 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Bengals -105 vs. Texans -125
  • Over / Under: Over 41 (-110) vs. Under 41 (-110)

With an opportunity to claim their fourth AFC South title in six years, the Houston Texans look to beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night and get a little help on Christmas Eve from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Texans (8-6-0) need a win and a loss by the Tennessee Titans against the Jaguars to clinch the division title. Any other scenario will result in a winner-take-all contest in Tennessee next weekend between the teams to determine the AFC South’s champion.

Despite being on the cusp of the playoffs, the Texans are trying to solve their quarterback quandary. Head coach Bill O’Brien benched an ineffective Brock Osweiler in the first half of their game against the Jaguars, and Tom Savage rallied Houston to a 22-21 victory. He completed 23 of 36 passes for 260 yards and led the game-wining drive that ended with running back Lamar Miller scoring from one yard with 2:51 to play.

Now Savage, who hadn’t taken a snap since the 2014 season prior to last Sunday, will get his first NFL start in a pressure cooker of a situation. His career numbers — 33 of 55 for 387 yards and one interception with no touchdown passes — don’t provide many clues to his potential, and Miller will probably have to shoulder a huge portion of the offensive burden for Houston.

The Bengals (5-8-1), meanwhile, were eliminated from postseason contention after their 24-20 home loss to Pittsburgh last weekend. Cincinnati squandered a 14-point first-half lead and was held to four first down and 38 yards in the second half as the Steelers rallied for 18 unanswered points.

Andy Dalton threw for 157 yards and an interception, sorely missing the big-play skills of injured wide receiver A.J. Green, who missed his fourth straight game with a hamstring injury. The Pro Bowl wideout, however, is expected to play in this contest and needs 36 yards to post his sixth 1,000-yard season in as many years since entering the league.

Texans ‘D’ must tame the Bengals

Bengals at Texans Over/UnderGiven the amount of pressure on Savage for his first pro start, the Texans defense will need to deliver another standout effort at home to help ease the burden. Houston is 6-1 at home this season, yielding 17.6 points and 286 yards per game, and that has helped the Texans overcome a minus-5 turnover differential in those games at NRG Stadium. The Texans are also optimistic linebacker Whitney Mercilus — who leads the team with 5.5 sacks — will be available after being sidelined last week due to a back injury.

That defense could potentially be under more pressure if running back Lamar Miller is unable to go. The Pro Bowl alternate missed practice Wednesday due to an ankle injury he suffered against the Jaguars and is questionable. Alfred Blue is a capable backup with 319 yards and a 4.6 average per carry, but like Savage, would be making his first start of the season if Miller sits out.

Cincy out to shake road woes

I recommend a 1-unit bet on under 41 points (-110) at the Bovada Sportsbook.

The Bengals are 2-5 on the road this season, with the wins coming over the New York Jets (4-10) and Cleveland Browns (0-14). While no one is confusing Houston with the likes of New England and Dallas — two teams Cincinnati has lost to on the road — the Texans are a legitimate step up in quality. The Bengals have allowed an average of 131.1 rushing yards in their road games and were gashed for 169 by the Browns, so whoever gets the ball in the Texans backfield will be getting it a lot.

It’s difficult to envision this game being a shootout between a Texans offense in transition and a Bengals team relegated to playing out the string. Even if Green comes back for Cincinnati, it may take a few series to shake off a month’s worth of rust. The recent history between the teams also points to a defensive-oriented contest — they’ve hit the under in three straight games over the last three years — including a 10-6 win by the Texans last season.

They played the previous two games in Houston, combining for 32 and 35 points in those contests. Houston has played well to the spread at home this season, going 4-2-1, and Cincinnati is 1-5-1 versus the number as the road team. The best play for the Bovada Sports Book would be taking the -110 for the UNDER of 41 points, and it would probably be wise to avoid the even money bet of the Texans winning the AFC South this week since Tennessee plays Jacksonville and needing both a Houston win and Tennessee loss for the division title to be settled.

Chris AltrudaThis article was written by Chris Altruda

Chris Altruda has spent more than two decades as a sportswriter, first for ESPN SportsTicker in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he rose to the level of college sports coordinator and was NCAA Men's Basketball Columnist. From there, he moved onto The Associated Press, where Chris started as an editorial assistant in their MegaSports division in the AP's headquarters in New York City before taking on the role of Scores Manager. He most recently served as an editor for nearly 11 years for STATS' editorial department based in Northbrook, Illinois, writing game previews for all US professional and major college sports as well as the English Premier League and international soccer. Currently a freelancer, Chris is still working the international soccer beat and other assorted projects. A native New Yorker and graduate of Marquette University who still refers to them as the Warriors, Chris is now holding out hope the Jets will reach a Super Bowl in his lifetime since the Cubs proved miracles are possible by winning the 2016 World Series. Chris can be found on Twitter at @AlTruda73

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