Five of the six CBS experts have picked the Bengals to win this game (SPIN is the lone dissenter picking the Texans to win). The Bengals have improved in each game they've played, the notable exception being a tendency for the defense to break down in the fourth quarter because lack of offensive production forces them to be on the field for too long.
Here's how they match up:
Points scored per game: Bengals 14 (NFL rank: 31); Texans 23 (NFL rank 14)
Points allowed: Bengals 26 (25); Texans 29 (31)
Total offense: Bengals 225 (32); Texans 369 (5)
Rush offense: Bengals 73 (31); Texans 120 (12)
Pass offense: Bengals 151 (30); Texans 249 (6)
Total defense: Bengals 331 (T-19); Texans 338 (22)
Rush defense: Bengals 152 (27); Texans 122 (22)
Pass defense: Bengals179 (6); Texans 216 (17)
Turnover differential: Bengals -3 (T-22); Texans -9 (T-31)
Statistically, the Texans have a significant offensive advantage over the Bengals, with an average total offense per game of 369 yards to the Bengals' 225 yards. They're getting about 50 more yards per game from the rush and about 100 more yards per game from the pass. The Texans have won two straight games at home, so they are on a roll with confidence running high.
The Bengals will have to take advantage of the only notable strength they have at the moment, the pass defense. If the offense can do better than three-and-out nearly every time they are on the field and give the defense a chance to catch their breath once in a while, the defense may be able to do what they've done in most games so far this year and keep them in it with at least a fighting chance. The Bengals also will need to work to keep Texans rushers below 100 yards for the game and beat that 120 per game average the Texans are carrying.
The Texans are also -9 in turnover differential, so the Bengals may be able to take advantage of that. The defense had two interceptions against the Jets go to waste because the offense couldn't capitalize. Perhaps if they get those chances against the Texans, it won't be for nothing.
Another week, another game. A win for the Bengals?