Ninth regular-season meeting. The series is tied, 4-4. Since winning the first three meetings, Cincinnati has lost six of seven, including defeats in AFC wild-card playoff games in 2011 and 2012. The Texans are 3-2 as the home team.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Houston can clinch the AFC South title with a win and a Tennessee loss. The Texans will try to do it with Tom Savage at quarterback. He replaced Brock Osweiler and rallied the Texans over Jacksonville last Sunday.
"We make decisions on what we think is the best way to help the team, what helps the team win," coach Bill O'Brien said. "I feel like Tom Savage gives us the best chance to win. I'm going to give him a week to prepare as the starter, see what he can do for us on Saturday night against the Bengals."
Like Osweiler before him, Savage will lean on the league's top-ranked defense. The Texans were without linebackers Whitney Mercilus and John Simon, and cornerback Johnathan Joseph against the Jaguars, and there is uncertainty about their availability for Saturday night.
The Texans are expected to throw the football more with Savage at the controls and running back Lamar Miller hurting.
Following five consecutive postseason appearances, the Bengals are striving to cap the schedule with prideful performances.
The Bengals need to protect Andy Dalton, who has been sacked 37 times this season. Bengals WR A.J. Green could return to help bolster the offense.
Disruptive linebacker Vontaze Burfict is out for the Bengals (knee, concussion)
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Bengals CB Adam Jones. Hopkins caught eight passes for 87 yards on 17 targets in a resurgent game last week. Jones is a feisty competitor. Hopkins beat him for a touchdown last season.
--Bengals QB Andy Dalton vs. Texans DE Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus leads the Texans with 5 1/2 sacks and is coming off a back injury. Dalton has a quick throwing motion and has passed for 3,712 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--Out: G Clint Boling (shoulder), LB Vontaze Burfict (knee, concussion), TE Tyler Eifert (back), TE Tyler Kroft (knee, ankle)
--Questionable: CB Johnathan Joseph (ribs), RB Lamar Miller (ankle)
Bengals DT Geno Atkins. With three sacks in the past two games, Atkins raised his total to a team-leading 7.5, which also leads all NFL interior linemen. Atkins this week was named to the Pro Bowl for the fifth time in seven seasons. He also leads the team in QB hits (23) and tackles for loss (12).
Bengals QB Andy Dalton has just five passing TDs and one interception in his past four games. He ranks third in the AFC with 3,712 yards.
Bengals RB Jeremy Hill aims for a fourth straight game with a rushing TD. He has 193 scrimmage yards in his past two. Since 2015, he ranks fourth in the NFL with 20 rushing TDs.
Houston RB Lamar Miller has scored a rushing TD in the past two games. He ranks sixth in the NFL with 1,073 rushing yards.
Houston DE Jadeveon Clowney is tied for fourth in the NFL with 15 tackles for loss.
Texans LB Benardrick McKinney is the only player in the NFL with 100 tackles (121) and five sacks (5). He has a sack in the past two home games.
The Texans have played a ton of close games this season and this figures to be no different. Savage and the defense should be enough to hold off Dalton & Co.
OUR PICK: Texans, 24-20.