That fifth straight looks like it will have to come during a trap game against a game Houston Texans team led by breakout rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, who enters Paycor Stadium having thrown for 470 yards and five touchdowns during a win the week prior.
And while Burrow looks all the way back from his calf injury, he’ll need to carry an offense that won’t have Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase’s playing status will come down to a morning workout.
Still, it’s understandable if Bengals fans feel pretty confident in Burrow anyway. They’ve seen him dice up defenses with the likes of Trenton Irwin in the past. And just last week during that primetime win over the Bills, he peppered eight different targets with at least one catch on his way to 348 yards and two touchdowns. He’s now thrown five scores and no picks over the last two games, wins over the 49ers and Bills.
This can go a step further, too. The Texans rank 24th in passing yards allowed per game and the team’s secondary was a big part of an injury report this week that listed a stunning 23 players. On the final report, eight players were listed as out (including a starting kicker), with a corner and pass-rusher listed as questionable, too.
Of the players listed out for the Texans, top running back Dameon Pierce and top wideout Nico Collins will miss the game, leaving Stroud without key weapons on the road against a Lou Anarumo defense that should throw confusing looks at the rookie.
Which isn’t to say the Texans can’t produce — someone like Dalton Schultz is the blueprint to exploit the usual Bengals struggles against tight ends. But if the Bengals offense jumps out in front and Stroud’s offense has to get predictable to keep pace, it could create problems for the visitors.
Considering the Texans needed nearly 500 yards and five scores from Stroud to beat a 3-5 Tampa Bay team that has lost four in a row, it’s safe to say this is an easier matchup for the Bengals than each of the last two weeks.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t a trap game and the team can’t afford to overlook the Texans while eyeballing next Thursday’s showdown with the Ravens. But it’s super winnable if they keep playing as they have over this four-game streak.
Prediction: Bengals 30, Texans 20