2002 Record: (0-7) 11.03.02 | 12pm
November 1, 2002
Guaranteed Good Game… For Houston
by Jimmy Mohr
The Texans host the winless Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday at Reliant Stadium looking to extend their winning streak to two games. According to Bengals head coach, Dick LeBeau, and wide receiver, Chad Johnson, there is no reason to watch this week’s game because both have guaranteed a Cincinnati victory. Did they think it was their bye week?
The Bengals offense is consistently one of the worst in the league (29th overall in 2002), thanks mostly to poor play at the quarterback position. They have used three QB’s this season, all with lower ratings than rookie David Carr. Jon Kitna, Gus Frerotte and Akili Smith have all started games, but Kitna will be the starter on Sunday after an impressive effort against the Titans (17/23, 193, 2 TD 0 INT). Running back Corey Dillon is the pulse of the offense and the only chance they have to be competitive. He is ninth in the league in rushing yards and is second on the team with 22 receptions.
The Bengals defense is hardly an improvement over the offense. The defense ranks 23rd overall (9th pass, 28th run) and allows a league worst 30.1 points per game. They have recorded only eight sacks in seven games and have forced only seven turnovers, worst in the league.
Houston, on the other hand, is a team on the rise. They have had a lead in each of their last three games and finally won their first road game last week in Jacksonville, a place the Bengals haven’t won since the Civil War. The Texans’ defense, ranked 10th overall, has performed well enough to keep games close and compensate for an offense still trying to find an identity.
Carr and the rest of the offense is improving, but still has a ways to go to be competitive against solid defenses.
When Houston has the ball…
The Texans hope to take advantage of a Bengals rush defense that gives up 141.7 yards per game. Jonathan Wells and James Allen will be used like battering rams to open up the passing game for Carr and Co. Carr should light up the sky (or roof) on Sunday, and Jabar Gaffney and Corey Bradford should be the recipients of some deep passes. Carr has done a great job with play-action, so look for him to use it often to free up his receivers.
When Cincinnati has the ball…
The Bengals’ best and only chance will be to run Corey Dillon to death. They have called 60% passing plays this season as a result of playing from behind, way behind. In fact, last week was the first game this season in which Cincinnati has lead after the first quarter. If the Bengals fail to get the ground game going, the Texans defense will be able to sit back and let Kitna make mistakes. Even with no interceptions last week, Kitna has thrown 7 interceptions in 136 attempts, or 1 per 19 attempts.
1. Avoid a letdown
It would be natural for the Texans to take the lowly Bengals lightly after beating the Jags on their home turf. Plus, Houston’s also favored for the first time this season. Hopefully, the trash talk from Cincinnati will help the Texans keep their focus.
2. Improve special teams
Special teams play has been disappointing the past two games. Last week, the Jaguars blocked a punt that luckily resulted in a safety instead of a touchdown. The week before, Jermaine Lewis fumbled a punt that lead to a quick score by the Browns who also returned a kickoff for a touchdown. The Texans’ special teams can’t afford to give up points and expect the offense to be able to make up for them.
3. Win the ground battle
The primary key to this game will be the battle up front. If the Texans can move the ball successfully with Wells and Allen, the game will be theirs to lose. The Bengals have proven they can’t play from behind, and can ill afford to allow the Texans to control the ball. The Texans need to stack the line and force Kitna to throw the ball. This should lead to easy turnovers. Corey Dillon vs. Jamie Sharper & Jay Foreman
Last week, Fred Taylor was stymied by Sharper and Foreman, who combined for 17 tackles. Sharper has been hobbled this week with a sore knee but is expected to start Sunday. Sharper and Foreman will be key factors in how much the success Corey Dillon, and the rest of the Bengals offense, has on Sunday. Dick LeBeau vs. Unemployment figures
LeBeau was rumored to be on the way out two weeks ago during Cincinnati’s bye week. Here he is, two weeks later, with an 0-7 record guaranteeing victories. If the Texans win this week, look for LeBeau to vote democrat next week — he’ll need all the unemployment he can get. HoustonProFootball.com’s hard working… working staff weigh in with their predictions for this week’s game.
Bob: The D lassoes Corey Dillon and the Bengals take another step forward in the Byron Leftwich Sweepstakes. Texans 27, Bengals 14
Dave: With his comments this week, Dick LeBeau has blown whatever chance the Begals had of winning. Texans 23 Bengals 16
Jimmy: I guarantee it. Texans 27, Bengals 13
Keith: Corey Dillon ran all over the Oilers, but he’s not playing the Oilers anymore. Texans 20, Bengals 13
Ric: It’s not a given, but, come on — Cincy sucks. Texans 20, Bengals 12
Warren: The Bengals have been outscored 78 to 31 in their three road games this season. Texans 31, Bengals 17
2002 Regular Season Records Bob 4-3; Dave 3-4; Jimmy 4-3; Keith 6-1;
Ric 5-2; Warren 3-4
TEXANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 175 89 1188 7/6 TEAM 177 91 1232 9/6 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Allen 80 297 3.7 0 TEAM 195 710 3.6 2 REC NO YDS AVG TD Bradford 21 444 21.1 5 TEAM 91 1232 13.5 9 BENGALS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/INT Kitna 136 89 795 3/7 TEAM 254 145 1349 4/13 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Dillon 140 602 4.3 4 TEAM 181 774 4.3 4 REC NO YDS AVG TD Johnson 24 307 12.8 1 TEAM 145 1349 9.3 4 PRESEASON 8.05 GIANTS 17-34 8.10 @ Saints 13-10 8.17 @Chiefs 9-19 8.24 DOLPHINS 3-24 8.30 BUCCANEERS 13-17 REGULAR SEASON 9.08 COWBOYS 19-10 9.15 @ Chargers 3-24 9.22
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review