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NFL Playoffs - Early Game Thread: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans

One team slid backwards as the regular season ended, and another began to find its stride. The Bengals are playing their best football right now, and none too soon. They face a troubled Texans team trying to regain its early season promise.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Kick off is 4:30 ET, in Houston, TX. The Texans will need to find their game quickly if they want their season to continue. A once powerful defense has become mid-line at best. The Texans' offense can't seem to score points, and their top flight running back - Arian Foster - may want to change from Vegan back to pizza eater in the off season. Foster hasn't been the back NFL fans have come to know over the last few years. Andre Johnson has 1400+ receiving yards, avoiding the injuries that have plagued him in season's past.

The Bengals were my pick to win the AFC North at the beginning of the year. OK, I was wrong, but not by much. They made it to the Wild Card round with a defense that's causing opponents problems. Quarterback Andy Dalton shrugged off an early season sophomore slump to finishing the regular season with 3,669 passing yards, 27 touch downs and 16 interceptions. That's up from his 2011 totals: 3,398 passing yards, 20TDs, and 13 Ints. A.J. Green improved his 2011 totals: 65 recs, 1,057, 7 TDs, for a 16.3 YPC (Ranked #16 among WRs in the NFL). In 2012, he caught more passes (97), his yardage rose to 1,350 with 11 TDs, but his YPC dropped to a still healthy 13.9 and #6 NFL ranking.

This game could be an air show, with Green and Johnson being the key players. So sit back, and enjoy the start of the NFL post season!