TEXANS (0-1) VS. BEN­GALS (0-1)

THURS­DAY, 8:25 P.M. ET, PAUL BROWN STA­DIUM, CINCINNATIuTV: NFL NET­WORK, DIRECTV 212

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - WEEK 2 MATCH UP - Wat­son Tom Sav­age Andy Dal­ton A.J. Green Tyler Eifert Gio­vani Bernard, Jeremy Joe Mixon Hill Matchup to watch: Ben­gals’ Hill vs. Texans LB Be­nardrick McKin­ney. Brian Cush­ing Player to watch: Texans WR DeAn­dre Hop­kins. Num­ber crunch­ing: 9. J.J. Watt Jadev

An­nounc­ers: Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Heather Cox.

About the Texans: Tak­ing the field in front of an emo­tional, rowdy NRG Sta­dium crowd ea­ger to es­cape the dev­as­ta­tion and flood­ing from Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, the Texans were hit hard early and of­ten in their 29-7 loss to the Jack­sonville Jaguars. QB was sacked six times and lost two fum­bles in the first half and the Texans trailed 19-0 at the break. Af­ter half­time, rookie QB

re­placed Sav­age and threw a touch­down pass on his first drive. Af­ter that, he was sacked four times and com­mit­ted two turnovers. So, who starts on the short turn­around in Week 2? “Right now, we’re just try­ing to fig­ure it out,” Texans coach said af­ter the loss. “I don’t know. I’ll think about it a long time tonight.”

About the Ben­gals: QB get­ting back all of his weapons and had a three-headed mon­ster at run­ning back in Week 1. But the game ended up a jum­bled mess in a 20-0 loss to the Bal­ti­more Ravens. Dal­ton threw four in­ter­cep­tions, lost a fumble and was sacked five times. WR was held in check with 74 yards and five catches, TE was neu­tral­ized and the RB com­mit­tee of

and rookie com­bined for 75 rush­ing yards on 20 at­tempts. The de­fense saw drives ex­tended by penalty af­ter penalty and ran out of gas af­ter fall­ing in an early hole. The Ben­gals have a short time to dwell on the loss be­fore fac­ing a team that also suf­fered an em­bar­rass­ing sea­son-open­ing loss. was

Way too DeAn­dre Hop­kins should have bet­ter re­sults against the Ben­gals in Week 2.

of­ten in Week 1, Jack­sonville RB Leonard Four­nette ran right through the de­fen­sive line and lineback­ers be­fore he was fi­nally slowed by the sec­ondary. McKin­ney led the team with nine tack­les and the Texans’ lineback­ers strug­gled af­ter left the game with a con­cus­sion. If Hill and the Ben­gals run­ners can get into the sec­ond and third lev­els against Hous­ton, they’ll have a lot more suc­cess.

No mat­ter who was un­der cen­ter for the Texans in Week 1, Hop­kins was al­ways the first look. He was fre­quently tailed by Jack­sonville’s phys­i­cal cor­ners and drew nearly a half-dozen pass in­ter­fer­ence penal­ties, fin­ish­ing with just seven catches for 55 yards and a touch­down on 16 tar­gets. He should have a lit­tle more breath­ing room against the Ben­gals and could put up big num­bers.

Be­tween Sav­age, Wat­son and Dal­ton, the Texans and Ben­gals quar­ter­backs com­bined for nine turnovers in Week 1 and were sacked 15 times.

KEYS TO VIC­TORY

1. Pro­tect­ing the quar­ter­back: Af­ter dis­as­trous per­for­mances from both of­fen­sive lines, the block­ing will have to be much bet­ter in Week 2 for the pass­ing games to find mo­men­tum.

2. Yards per play: Both of­fenses strug­gled be­cause of con­ser­va­tive play call­ing and in­ef­fec­tive ex­e­cu­tion. The Ben­gals av­er­aged 3.8 yards per play, while the Texans put 2.9.

3. Avoid­ing the yel­low: Hous­ton got more than a third of its first downs through Jack­sonville penal­ties, but the Texans lost 94 yards on penal­ties. Cincin­nati com­mit­ted nine penal­ties for a loss of 66 yards and gave Bal­ti­more four free first downs.

4. Play­ing the sacks: The Texans have way too much tal­ent be­tween pass rush­ers

and to have zero sacks as they did in Week 1. Watt and Clowney com­bined for two tack­les and rarely pres­sured the passer.

Jor­dan God­win

TROY TAORMINA, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

De­shaun Bill O’Brien

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