NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 16 PFF ReFocused: Cincinnati Bengals 37, Houston Texans 31

Dec 27, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen (8) runs the ball against the Houston Texans during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A Week 16 meeting between two teams with a combined 8-21-1 record turned into an absolute barnburner that ended as a 37-31 win for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Houston Texans.

Today marked a celebration for Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who reached 100 passing TDs for his career. Unfortunately, Watson’s only sack of the day resulted in a fumble that iced the win for Cincinnati.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story Of The Game

It’s fair to say that Brandon Allen outperformed Watson, who was PFF’s third-highest-graded QB (91.9) entering Week 16. Allen finished the game 29-for-37 for 371 yards and two touchdowns. He played an extremely efficient brand of football and was protected reasonably well today, as the Bengals signal-caller faced pressure on 8.3% of his dropbacks.

The fifth-year backup completed five deep passes (throws that travel 20-plus yards in the air downfield) today, despite being 0-for-6 on deep targets heading into this game.

J.J. Watt was the lone playmaker on a Texans defense that got carved up by a veteran QB on his fourth NFL team in five years. Houston generated three pressures from start to finish, one from Watt and two from second year-pro Charles Omenihu. Five Texans defenders surrendered 50 or more yards in coverage.

The Bengals’ run defense ranks in the bottom 10 of the NFL and allowed Benny Snell Jr., Myles Gaskin and Wayne Gallman to rush for 80 yards or more in their past four games. The Texans’ rushing offense grades in the bottom five, and despite losing two starters along the offensive line in the first half to injuries, David Johnson racked up 86 of his 128 rushing yards on two carries alone. He also found the end zone twice in the third quarter.

In spite of the loss, the bright spot for Houston has to be the performance of Johnson, acquired in the offseason trade that sent DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. The Texans’ offensive line pushed the Bengals’ front around, allowing Johnson and others to average 5.5 yards before contact per attempt.

Rookie Watch

Bengals’ wide receiver Tee Higgins found himself on the other side of Allen’s productive day, hauling in six of his nine targets for 99 yards and a score. He stood out as the only first-year player on either team to make an impact on the field today.

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts, and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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