So is Houston ready for some playoff football? How about we go through the Reliant Stadium checklist for Saturday's game with the Bengals to find out.
Notifications to season ticket holders to be in their seats 30 minutes before kickoff? Check.
Colored placards in seats so fans can hold them up to spell "GO TEXANS" across the east lower bowl of the stadium? Check.
Clay Walker scheduled to sing a new playoff version of his Texans theme song? Check.
Bum Phillips to lead the team onto the field in the pregame? Check.
Yep, all of the tasks on the "Acting Like We've Never Been There Before Because We Haven't" checklist are complete. We're go for launch!
Now let's see if we can prognosticate how this whole thing is going to play out, shall we?
Photo by Groovehouse There will be joy in Texansville.
1. The Bengals are 9-0 against teams that missed the 2011 playoffs, and 0-7 against teams that made the 2011 playoffs.
2. The Texans offense with T.J. Yates at quarterback ran its smoothest during the first half of the Atlanta game and the first drive of the Tennessee game. It just so happens these are the only times Yates has taken the field with Andre Johnson. Andre Johnson will play this Saturday.
3. The Texans beat the Bengals a month ago in Cincinnati.
Add them all up and I think it's enough to overcome the unveiling of a special playoff edition of Clay Walker's Texans song. Also....
Bengals/TEXANS UNDER 38 1/2 ...I think this is going to be a low-scoring affair.
SAINTS -10 1/2 over Lions When the Lions postseason ends abruptly on Saturday night, they'll look back at last weekend's Packers game and want to kill themselves for giving up 480 yards passing to Matt Flynn. Win that game, and the Lions avoid this trip to New Orleans.
Right now, the Saints at home in prime time has become the "death and taxes" of NFL wagers. In four primetime home games this season, the Saints are 4-0 and have outscored their opponents by a 187-64 margin, including the Lions by a 31-17 count in early December (although that game was the first game of Ndamukong Suh's two-game suspension, worth noting). The Saints have been in this spot before, the Lions are brand-new to this postseason thing. It all sets up, and frankly has the potential to snowball pretty quickly on the Lions. I mean, if they're one week removed from giving up almost half a grand to Matt Flynn, what's Drew Brees going to do? Enough to cover the 10 1/2. that's what. Oh and also....
Lions/SAINTS OVER 58 1/2 ....enough to cover the 58 1/2 point over as well. GIANTS -3 over Falcons It seems like every time I bet against Eli Manning, he channels his 2008 playoff run and looks like a world beater, and every time I bet in favor of Eli Manning, he has three picks in the first half and spends the entire game with that dopey, pizza-boy look on his face. But the fact of the matter is that I trust Eli at home a lot more than I do Matt Ryan on the road. I'll also slide the cart WAY in front of the horse and say that Eli and the Giants have a great shot at upsetting the Packers in the divisional round, if they meet.
Steelers/BRONCOS UNDER 33 1/2 Ever since the Broncos went on their miraculous 7-1 run earlier this season to seize control of the AFC West and a likely four seed in the playoffs, I've been brimming with anticipation over the chance to bet on a Dick LeBeau-coached defense against Tim Tebow. And now that day is near.
You know the nature shows on Animal Planet or Discovery Channel where they show animal predators patiently circling their prey, and the show is basically a de facto wake for the poor sap of a creature that you know isn't going to make it out of the television show alive? Well, that's what this game feels like, with James Harrison circling the poor helpless Tebow until he can pounce and devour him for dinner.
Ben Roethlisberger's gimpy ankle against the Broncos front seven makes it hard for me to lay the eight points on the Steelers, but I'm fairly confident this game is a "first one to 13 points wins" situation.
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Last week: 5-7 Season record: 61-46-1
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.