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Thursday Night Football Breakdown: Undermanned Texans vs. Scoreless Bengals

By Kevin McGuire

The Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) and Houston Texans (0-1) each had forgettable season openers at home in Week 1, so a short turnaround to Week 2 may be just what the doctor ordered for both teams. The Cincinnati Bengals host the Houston Texans on Thursday night in Paul Brown Stadium (8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network), and there will be no shortage of drama for this week's game.

It's Time For Deshaun Watson in Houston

Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson got some playing time in the season opening loss at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and now head coach Bill O'Brien handed over the starting job to him. This should not come as a surprise, given Watson is the first true franchise quarterback O'Brien has had to work with since coming to the NFL from Penn State. Now he gets a chance to build from the ground up with his new starter under center, while Tom Savage takes on a backup role.

Bengals Might Score This Week... Maybe?

If the Houston Texans offense was a train wreck in Week 1 against Jacksonville, then the Bengals were the Titanic. The Bengals were blanked at home by the Baltimore Ravens following an absolutely dreadful showing by quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton was picked off four times in Week 1 by the Ravens, and he completed just 16 of 31 pass attempts for 170 yards while being sacked five times.

If the Bengals get another horrifying performance from Dalton, we could be heading to AJ McCarron getting some playing time soon, and that may not be much of an upgrade for the Bengals. The pressure is on head coach Marvin Lewis to get the offense in gear, and with the Texans being a bit banged up from the opener, there will be little room for excuses.

Texans in concussion protocol

The awareness of head trauma in football has escalated over the past few years, and that is a good thing. This week, five Texans players will be going through the league's concussion protocol, which means their availability for a Thursday night game could be in serious doubt given the short turnaround this week. The players going through the concussion protocol this week in Houston are linebacker Brian Cushing, wide receiver Bruce Ellington, and all three tight ends on the roster: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ryan Griffin, and Stephen Anderson. O'Brien is not expecting any of those five players to be available, which is a tough blow to the Texans' depth this week.

Which coach is under more pressure?

Some are already suggesting Bill O'Brien is coming under pressure to show signs of progress. Marvin Lewis has been there, done that. Coaches may not have long to prove they are right for the job in professional sports anymore, but there is only one coach under an immense amount of pressure to go 1-1 this week, and that is Lewis. O'Brien has the saving grace of finally having a true franchise quarterback he can work with, and his background suggests he will do good work with Watson moving forward. Lewis no longer has that option with Dalton. If Cincinnati goes 0-2, the rumblings and hot seat chatter should pick up steam in Cincinnati.

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