Football is unique among professional sports in that each team only plays 16 games a season. That means the importance of each game is a lot higher than says Baseball with 162 games or Basketball with 81 games a season. If you start 0-2, then you're already 1/8th of the way into the year without a win. It' doesn't mean your season is over, but you need something to build on going forward. The two teams meeting for tonight's game, the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans, are looking for more than a win. They're looking for redemption.
The Texans went up against the Jacksonville Jaguars and gave up 10 sacks. They pulled their starting quarterback, Tom Savage for rookie Deshaun Watson because he could move better. Watson had a better chance to stay on his feet. But Savage was sacked six times and Watson four. The Texans were supposed to be one of the top defenses in the league, yet gave up 29 points to a quarterback who was on the verge of losing his job 2 weeks ago. It was an embarrassing game for a team expected to win their division. They go into tonight's game with Watson starting and desperation in the air.
On the other side of the ball, the Cincinnati Bengals offense was as bad as you can possibly be last week. Quarterback Andy Dalton was 16 for 31 with no touchdowns, four interceptions and a lost fumble. He had a rating of 0.7, which is worst game ever. And he was sacked 5 times. They were shut out by the Baltimore Ravens 20 to 0. It's the type of defeat that lingers. Makes you question every decision you make.
And what's worth, both of the teams lost a home, the place you are supposed to play better. Now the Texans travel to Cincinnati. You might be able to excuse Houston after the devastating hurricane that tore through their city, the cancellation of their last preseason game and the fact that neither of their quarterbacks had that many starts. It doesn't excuse the 10 sacks or giving up 29 points… but it's something. Dalton is a high paid franchise quarterback with years of experience. They didn't change coaches. He had all of this weapons and just played the worst game of his career. If they lose tonight, another home game, it would be bad.
It's hard to call a week 2 game a must win, but I think that is the case tonight. Who ever gets the victory tonight gives themselves something to build on. A bit of hope and a belief that the week one drudging were just a fluke. Even if they just squeak by they can agree on the tweaks they made during the week and go into the third game with an even record. The loser on the other hand continues the spiral of doubt. Even if they have a good showing, they will still have lost, still be 0-2 and there are no moral victories when you opponent got their asses handed to them the week before. And with it being a Thursday night game… the loser will have ten days before they get to try again to get their first win. And it doesn't get easier. The Texans visit the New England Patriots and the Bengals go to play the Green Bay Packers. You don't want to take on Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers without at least one win under your belt.