Three nuggets of knowledge about Saturday's Bengals-Texans wild-card game:
Yards after contact: Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Bengals' defense allowed 2.0 yards per rush before contact this season, the third-lowest average in the league. But Cincinnati is allowing 1.9 yards per rush after contact, seventh worst in the NFL. The Texans led the league with 1,133 yards after contact this season. Ben Tate ran well against the Bengals in the regular-season game (eight carries for 67 yards with a 44-yarder), and quarterback T.J. Yates had a giant 17-yard run on the game-winning drive. Arian Foster had just 41 yards on 15 carries. Given a second chance against Cincy coming off a week’s rest, I think Foster will slip off defenders not just when he’s taking handoffs but also after pulling in receptions.
Hands up: The Texans led the league with 19 passes batted down, largely thanks to their work against Andy Dalton on Dec. 11, when they got their hands on eight. Dalton had the most passes batted or defended this season (79), while the Texans led all defenses with 94 defended passes. The Bengals are likely to call a lot of three-step drop quick throws. Defensive linemen and outside linebackers can’t usually get to the quarterback that quickly. So the next best thing is to pull up and look to get a paw on the ball. Odds are defensive coordinator Wade Phillips finds more ways to fluster Dalton than Dalton finds solutions to what the Texans try to do to him.
No mo: The Texans don’t come into the playoffs with momentum, as they’ve lost three in a row. This season’s Texans and Broncos are the seventh and eighth teams to reach the playoffs after losing their final three games since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Each of the previous three teams to enter the postseason on a losing streak of at least three games won its first playoff game. The 2009 Saints won Super Bowl XIV, the 2001 Raiders advanced to the divisional playoffs and the 2000 Vikings made it to the NFC Championship Game.