By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here are five keys for Saturday’s wild-card playoff game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans:
>>The Bengals’ outstanding pass-rushers must join the recent trend of generating heat on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. The Bengals have a talented defensive line, and rush the passer well with ends Robert Geathers and Michael Johnson. After doing a mostly solid job of protecting Schaub, the Texans’ offensive line has had some issues in that area in recent games.
>>Running back Arian Foster has to set the tone for the game by being a dominant force. The Texans’ zone-blocking scheme can give opponents fits. Foster excels at taking advantage of cutback lanes, and the Texans are going to look to get him going early and remain persistent on the ground.
>>Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton must be efficient. The aggressive, blitz-oriented scheme of Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is designed to force the quarterback into mistakes. Dalton had issues with turnovers during the regular season, including four interceptions that were returned for scores. His cause would be helped greatly by a strong rushing performance by BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
>>Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt needs to be his dominant self. Watt isn’t simply one of the best defensive players in the league; he is one of the best NFL players, period. He is incredibly effective as a pass-rusher and run-stuffer, and also has an uncanny ability to knock passes down at the line. He’s also tremendously versatile, working as an end in the Texans’ base 3-4 alignment and a tackle when they switch to a 4-3.
>>A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins and the rest of the Bengals’ receivers have to exploit the Texans’ single coverage. With all of the blitzing the Texans like to do, the Bengals should have ample opportunities to make big plays through the air with their receivers often being covered one-on-one. If Dalton can get the ball off in time, he can capitalize.
>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.
>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.
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