- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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The ability of the Texans’ defense to run stunts that an offensive line doesn’t have time to react to will be one big factor in Saturday’s Cincinnati-Houston playoff game.
The same personnel man who spelled that out so clearly also delved into other areas of the matchup:
Arian Foster running routes: Cincinnati has to keep the Texans' running game from getting going, because everything spins off of that. Put the game on the rookie quarterback. Houston’s system and Gary Kubiak design easy throws, especially early, that get T.J. Yates some confidence and rhythm early. Foster will be a huge part of that. The Bengals don’t have a defensive back or linebacker who will be a good matchup on the Texans running back as a pass-catcher. “That’s a problem,” he said. “He’s not Darren Sproles, but he’s close to that. He’s an excellent route runner, he’s got excellent hands, he’s a matchup nightmare.”
Beware of Antonio Smith: Against a high-quality pass rush, Cincinnati’s strategy should be obvious. “Get the ball out quick and try to establish your running game.” he said. “If they don’t, it’s going to be a long game. They have guys that can get after the quarterback. Antonio Smith might not have the sacks that Connor Barwin or Brooks Reed have, but he is a problem. He can cause a lot of disruption. He’ll force plays to Barwin, he’ll force plays to Reed, he’ll force plays to J.J. Watt.”
His expectation: “I think Houston will win this game. I think their defense is going to come out and really get after Andy Dalton.”