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Capsule previews of Saturday's NFL playoff games

Bengals (9-7) at Texans (10-6)

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Time: 4:30 p.m. TV/radio: Ch. 8; 1010-AM Line: Texans by 31/2

Coaches: Bengals — Marvin Lewis (69-74 overall); Texans — Gary Kubiak (47-49)

The Bengals win if …

They limit the Houston rushing game to a reasonable total. That would put more pressure on rookie QB T.J. Yates and play into the Bengals' hands.

The Texans win if …

They can take an early lead. That would allow the defense to take charge, and that is Houston's strength.

Matchup to watch

Bengals WR A.J. Green, far left, vs. Texans CB Johnathan Joseph. Green has been one of the NFL's most exciting rookies, and Joseph has helped transform a porous Houston secondary.

Our take

This is a tough call between teams that are built similarly. The young Bengals (especially on offense) have their work cut out for them playing on the road. Something tells us the Bengals will still make a few more plays on offense than Houston, and that will be the difference.

Prediction Bengals 21, Texans 17

Lions (10-6) at Saints (13-3)

Time: 8 p.m. TV/radio: Ch. 8; 1010-AM Line: Saints by 101/2

Coaches: Lions — Jim Schwartz (18-30); Saints — Sean Payton (61-34)

The Lions win if …

They can find a way to pressure Saints QB Drew Brees into hurried (and, thus, lower-percentage) throws. This would result in fewer conversions for New Orleans.

The Saints win if …

They continue scoring at the same clip they have in recent games. New Orleans averaged 44 points in its past three games.

Matchup to watch

Saints TE Jimmy Graham against the Lions' linebackers. He has become Brees' favorite target. He caught eight passes in the teams' first meeting.

Our take

The Lions don't seem to have enough consistency in their running game to keep the Saints' offense sidelined long enough to give Detroit a chance to win. Trying to just keep pace with New Orleans is a losing strategy.

Prediction Saints 34, Lions 24

Stephen F. Holder, Times staff writer

Stat pack

passing yards

rushing yards

passing yards allowed

rushing yards allowed



208.8 yards

219.1 yards

111.1 yards

153 yards

104.7 yards

96.0 yards

211.6 yardsXXX

189.7 yards

offensive rankings: Bengals — 20th; Texans — 13th

defensive rankings: Bengals — 7th; Texans — 2nd

points scored: Bengals — 21.5 (18th); Texans — 23.8 (10th)

points allowed: Bengals — 20.2 (9th); Texans — 17.4 (4th)

Stat pack

passing yards

rushing yards

passing yards allowed

rushing yards allowed



300.9 yards

334.2 yards

95.2 yards

132.9 yards

128.1 yards

108.6 yards

239.4 yardsXXX

259.8 yards

offensive rankings: Lions — 5th; Saints — 1st

defensive rankings: Lions — 23rd; Saints — 24th

points scored: Lions — 29.6 (4th); Saints — 34.2 (2nd)

points allowed: Lions — 24.2 (23rd); Saints — 21.2 (13th)

Capsule previews of Saturday's NFL playoff games 01/06/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 7, 2012 12:31am]
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