Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans

Head coach Zac Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals head south to face the Houston Texans in Week 16. The Bengals are on the heels of their biggest win of the season, a 27-17 victory over the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers.

Cincinnati snapped an 11-game losing streak against Pittsburgh with the win.

This week, the Bengals will attempt to win their first road game since Dec. 30, 2018. The Bengals are 0-6-1 away from Paul Brown Stadium in 2020. Taylor’s club finished 0-8 on the road last year. Sunday’s game will be their final opportunity to win a road game this season.

“We just want to win period. I don’t care where it’s at,” Taylor said. “Stacking back-to-back good performances by us is key. That’s more of our focus as opposed to getting our first road win.”

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Quarterback Deshaun Watson, here being dragged down by defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and the Houston Texans will enter Sunday's game on a three-game losing streak. The Bengals are coming off their upset of the Steelers on Monday Night Football.

The Bengals are 2-1 versus teams in the AFC South this season. 

Deshaun Watson and the 4-10 Texans are currently on a three-game losing streak. But Houston’s won its last three matchups versus Cincinnati.

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The Texans have an 8-4 all-time series lead over the Bengals.

Here are the three keys to the Week 16 battle in Texas:

Contain Deshaun Watson, Houston's passing offense

Watson is the engine that makes Houston’s No. 3 ranked passing attack go. The Texans quarterback will be the best player on the field when the two teams meet at NRG Stadium. Taylor knows the type of playmaker Watson is at quarterback.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is a big fan of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

“He's unbelievable. He's one of the best players in the league, no question about it. Every play is alive until you see someone get him on the ground or the ball hits the turf, because he just extends a lot of plays you don't think can be extended,” Taylor said. “It's all hands on deck for this guy. He's a tremendous play-maker. We have a ton of respect for him and it will be a great challenge for our defense."

Carl Lawson and the Bengals defense must put pressure on Watson and keep the mobile quarterback contained in the pocket. Watson has an uncanny ability to make off-script plays.

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has thrown for 4,134 yards, which ranks second in the NFL. His 110.6 passer rating is also second in the league.

Watson’s 4,134 passing yards rank second in the NFL. His 110.6 passer rating is also second in the league.

“He’s kind of like a magician back there — escaping to throw and extend plays,” Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard said. “We have to contain him.”

Continue momentum on the ground

The Joe Mixon-less Bengals rushed for 152 yards in Week 15’s upset win over the Steelers. It was Cincinnati’s second-best rushing performance of the season.

“We were going to have to establish the run to win the game, and I thought those guys upfront really did a great job, and the backs ran hard,” Taylor said following the Monday Night Football win.

The Bengals rushed a season-high 41 times in their victory over the Steelers. They need to continue that trend because  Houston has the league’s second worst run defense, allowing 150.5 yards a game.

The Bengals should continue to establish the run this week. Cincinnati had a season-high 41 rushing attempts versus Pittsburgh. The team might want to be in that ballpark again this week. Houston has the league’s second-worst run defense. The team allows 150.5 yards a game.

Bengals running back Giovani Bernard had 25 carries in Week 15’s win, the second-highest total in a single game in his career. Expect Bernard to have another busy day in the backfield on Sunday.

“When those opportunities come, just make the most of it. I’ve always been a type of guy, ever since I came in, when those opportunities show themselves, just take advantage of them,” Bernard said.

Bernard hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing game since the 2017 season. Week 16 could be his opportunity.

Win turnover battle

The Bengals were able to upset the Steelers because they decisively won the turnover battle and scored 17 points off Pittsburgh’s turnovers.

Giving the short-handed offense good field position from turnovers is going to be key in the final two games.

Carl Lawson and Vonn Bell lead the Bengals in forced fumbles with two apiece.  Houston’s 10 lost fumbles ranks near the bottom of the league.

Ball security is a problem for the Texans. Houston’s 10 lost fumbles rank near the bottom of the league.

Lawson and Vonn Bell lead the Bengals in forced fumbles with two apiece.

Creating takeaways has been a point of emphasis for the Bengals all season long. They haven’t done a very good job with that task, but they were excellent at creating takeaways in Week 15.

The Bengals are 2-1-1 this season when they force more turnovers than their opponent.

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