And, the 2011-2012 NFL Playoffs officially begin with the Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans. The game features the first ever playoff match up between two starting rookie quarterbacks. Cincinnati's Andy Dalton has put up rookie of the year caliber numbers, 58.1% completions, 3,398 yards passing, 20 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, while leading his team into the playoffs, the team's third trip to the post season since 1995. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since 1991, when they beat the Houston Oilers in the Wildcard round.
The Texans meanwhile are being lead by their third string quarterback T.J. Yates. Yates has a 61.2% completion rate this year, throwing for 949 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Of course, the Texans also had Arian Foster running for 1,224 yards and 10 touchdowns.
And, this is Houston's first ever playoff game, which should have the crowd in Reliant Stadium rocking.
Since the Super Bowl era began, only nine rookie quarterbacks have ever started a playoff game. In 1983, the Dolphins' Dan Marino became the first, with Bernie Kosar (1985), Jim Everett (1986), Todd Marinovich (1991), Sahun King (1999), Ben Roethlisberger (2004), Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan (2008), and Mark Sanchez (2009) all joining that group. Yates and Dalton will make the tenth and eleventh members of the club.
This should be a good game. The Bengals average 320 yards per game on offense, while the Texans are at 372 yards per game. The Texans defense only allows 285.7 yards per game compared to the Bengals' 316.3. There could be a lot of scoring in this game - depending on the two rookies at the helm.
The all time series between the two teams is tied 3-3, with Houston winning the last three, including a 20-19 victory back in December.