A.J. Green will take a step towards returning to game action.
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Green has missed the past three games after suffering a hamstring injury early in a Week 11 loss to the Buffalo Bills jerseys. Getting back on the practice field is the first step for Green’s potential return for the 5-7-1 Bengals, currently third in the AFC North.
Green is 36 receiving yards shy of his sixth straight 1,000-yard season. He could join Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history with wholesale China jerseys and 1,000-plus receiving yards in each of his first six seasons.
Andy Dalton has played well the past two weeks without Green. The Bengals’ quarterback has completed more than 72 percent of his passes with four touchdowns to zero interceptions in wins over the Eagles and Browns.
You can’t keep Tom Savage down for long. Once the Bengals subjected Houston to a deficit of over three points, the promoted quarterback turned it on, leading the Texans’ only touchdown drive of the game in just over two minutes to put Houston ahead for good. Savage’s first half was historically terrible (2/7, 13 yds, 3 sacks), and he often looked more like his predecessor, Brock Osweiler, in the pocket, resorting to dump offs to running backs and C.J. Fiedorowicz jersey. But the playbook opened up for Savage in the second half when the Texans went to a no-huddle offense. Savage was more comfortable, making some clutch throws in a collapsing pocket. Most importantly, he targeted star wideout DeAndre Hopkins jersey five times down the stretch, connecting for three catches and 43 yards. Houston has found its formula with January approaching: Hurry with Hopkins.
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Savage will be the guy going forward, but how should Houston handle the QB position next week at Tennessee? What looked to be the game of the week is now an all-but-meaningless contest, what with the Titans eliminated and Marcus Mariota injured. Would Bill O’Brien consider playing both Savage and Osweiler next week, so to at least avoid injury to his preferred starter? We’ve learned this week that, heading into the postseason, you can never be too careful with your QB1.
This Thursday Night Special on Saturday Night played out like Week 7’s Seahawks-Cardinals matchup, which is to say a sneaky defensive slugfest. Both units came out flying. Cincinnati’s defensive line sacked Savage three times in the first half and four times on the game. Jadeveon Clowney jersey(one sack) and Whitney Mercilus (two sacks) were terrors once again against Cincy’s porous line. But the key to both defenses’ prowess on the night was the secondary play. Bengals corners Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones combined to handle Hopkins and Will Fuller on the outside for three quarters. Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye had a game-high nine tackles and continues to play himself into a multi-year deal. Bouye, Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson will be able to hold their own against the AFC’s best receiving corps in the postseason.
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Tom Savage is real, but can he be spectacular? If he employs the help of Houston’s offensive star, perhaps. In relief of Osweiler, the third-year quarterback demonstrated a stronger arm on passes past the sticks, had a more confident pocket presence and threw for 260 yards while leading a methodical comeback. But most importantly, he finally — FINALLY — got talented and oft-forgotten wideout DeAndre Hopkins involved. Hopkins saw 17 targets against the Jags, the most he’s seen all season and the second-most in his career with cheap jerseys. With Savage leading the offense, Hopkins also tallied his most receiving yards (87) in a game since Week 2. Thirteen weeks is far too long of a time for Hopkins to not have eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Will he top it against Cincinnati? The Bengals’ pass defense is middle of the road, but still boasts meddlesome cornerbacks in Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick. So all bets are off, especially considering this is Savage’s first ever start. But if we are to take the QB at his words — “I’m going to have some fun doing it and go rip it” — then we should be in for a Hopkins-heavy approach and a Texans offense that looks at least competent and at best explosive.
The Bengals are better than their 5-8-1 record suggests. The problem this season, aside from their offensive line, is that they’ve been saddled with injuries to their significant players. Tyler Eifert missed six games to start the season (and won’t play Saturday with a back injury). Then Gio Bernard went on IR. More recently, it was A.J. Green’s four-week hiatus that sunk Cincy’s playoff aspirations. But come Saturday night, Cincinnati could have its All-Pro wideout back on the sideline. Green said Thursday that, after sitting out four games with a bum hamstring, he is healthy enough to play this week. The news of Green’s impending return is a boon for Andy Dalton and a Bengals offense that have been held to under 200 passing yards in each of their last two tests. While it’s too little, too late this season, Cincy fans can grab a glimpse this week and next of the Bengals offense that could have been.
Lost in all the hubbub surrounding Houston’s QB catastrophe is that the Texans’ defense has held its own sans J.J. Watt, thanks in most part to the emergence of their prized top pick. Maybe it’s not news anymore, but it’s worth repeating: Jadeveon Clowney has finally made the leap. The athletic, but fragile third-year defensive end is having a healthy career year in place of Watt and is picking up the pace as the postseason nears. In his last two games, Clowney has two sacks, five QB hits and three TFLs, and his 14 tackles for loss are good for fourth in the league. Clowney’s speed off the line has been his most impressive asset; he boasts the quickest snap-to-tackle time (3.7 seconds) over any lineman with at least 30 tackles. The end should feast against Cincy’s O-line, which has allowed 37 sacks this season (third-most in league), and continue his impressive campaign.