A welcomed change at quarterback kept the Houston Texans in the driver's seat in the AFC South, and they can clinch to the division crown with a win and some help this weekend. The Texans will try to take care of their own business when Tom Savage gets the start under center against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday.
Houston coach Bill O'Brien benched $72 million quarterback Brock Osweiler with his team trailing against Jacksonville last week and watched Savage bring the Texans back from a 12-point deficit for a 21-20 win that kept them in a tie for first place in the AFC South with Tennessee, although they own the tiebreaker by virtue of their 5-0 record in the division. "He's a very consistent person," O'Brien told reporters after naming Savage the starter on Monday. "He's been the same guy as far as his personality and how he approaches his day-to-day workload since he arrived here. ... He's always trying to do something to prepare, and I think as far as leadership in the huddle, he communicates the play well. He can throw the football, and that more than anything can spark a team." The Bengals are playing out the string after officially being eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to rival Pittsburgh last week. "It gets you upset, and you stay upset," Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis told reporters. "It doesn't sit well. Unfortunately, I've got a little bit longer to be upset than in the past. Whenever the final day comes, unless you're the last one standing, you're always upset with it. That's the way it is."
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network. LINE: Texans -1.5. O/U: 41
ABOUT THE BENGALS (5-8-1): Cincinnati still has a chance to play spoiler with games left against the Texans and Baltimore in the final two weeks, and Lewis is not considering resting the starters. "No. No," Lewis told reporters. "Our thought is to win these last two football games with the best players we can put out there to play, and that's what we owe to everybody. This isn't junior high school." Included in that is Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, who sat out the last four games with a hamstring injury but returned to practice this week and could play on Saturday.
ABOUT THE TEXANS (8-6): Osweiler is last among 31 qualifying quarterbacks with an average of 5.75 yards per attempt and tied for second in the league with 16 interceptions, prompting O'Brien to make the change and tell reporters, "We don't make decisions on how much a guy gets paid." Savage threw for 260 yards and averaged 7.2 per attempt in his chance against the Jaguars and is prepared for the opportunity to start again. "I'm always, each week going in there, prepared be the starter," Savage told reporters. "That's kind of the mindset I always have, just so when those situations come, you're not startled, you're ready to go in there and make some plays for the team."
1. Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion) is questionable for Saturday.
2. Texans RB Lamar Miller (ankle) was the only player missing from practice Thursday and is day-to-day.
3. Houston DE Jadeveon Clowney is the team's lone Pro Bowl representative.
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