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The AFC South champion Houston Texans (12-4) and Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) meet in a Wild Card rematch from a year ago on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Reliant Stadium. Houston defeated Cincinnati, 31-10, in last year’s Wild Card game at Reliant Stadium.
The Texans bolted to an 11-1 start to the 2012 season but lost three of their last four games heading into the postseason, including a 28-16 defeat to Indianapolis last Sunday. The loss knocked Houston from the top spot in the AFC to the third seed. Cincinnati battled back from a 3-5 start to go 7-1 in the second half of the season behind a stifling defense that his given up less than 20 points in all but one game in that time. The Bengals enter the postseason as the sixth seed. Houston is one of only two teams to rank in the top 10 in offense and defense in the NFL. NFL sack leader, team MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate DE J.J. Watt led the Texans’ seventh-ranked defense with 20.5 sacks, 107 tackles, 39 tackles for loss, 42 quarterback hits, 16 passes defensed and four forced fumbles in 2012.
Houston’s offense boasts six Pro Bowl selections, including the AFC’s leading receiver, WR Andre Johnson. Johnson caught 112 passes for a career-high 1,598 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Texans. RB Arian Foster led the NFL in touchdowns for the second time in three years with 17 total scores and ranked second in the AFC with 1,424 yards rushing. QB Matt Schaub eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark for the third time in his career and was named to his second career Pro Bowl with a 90.7 passer rating behind an offensive line that features Pro Bowlers LT Duane Brown, LG Wade Smith and C Chris Myers.
The Bengals’ stout defense ranked second in the NFL with 51 sacks, including 12.5 from Pro Bowl by DT Geno Atkins. Cincinnati is giving up 319.7 yards per game to rank sixth in the NFL but has held opponents to 282.0 yards allowed per game in the last eight games. Houston is 4-3 all-time against Cincinnati, including the playoffs. The Texans have won the last four meetings between the two teams.