Bengals bring mixed record against rookie QBs into matchup with Deshaun Watson

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Herm says Watson gives Texans best chance to win (1:07)

Herm Edwards explains that Texans coach Bill O'Brien always knew Deshaun Watson would be the franchise QB, but it was just a question of how soon he would be the starter. (1:07)

CINCINNATI -- The Texans haven't announced their starting quarterback for Thursday night's game against the Bengals, but all signs point toward rookie Deshaun Watson making his first start.

That's who Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has been preparing for all along.

"I would expect Deshaun to be the quarterback, and it would surprise me if he’s not," Lewis said. "I think he’s a young, talented player, and they’re going to run their offense, which starts with the running game."

Watson, who replaced Tom Savage in the second half of the Texans' loss to the Jaguars on Sunday, will turn 22 on Thursday, which could be the day of his first start. That makes him one of the younger starting quarterbacks the Bengals have faced under Lewis.

The Bengals' record against rookie quarterbacks and first-time starters has been mixed under Lewis.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, rookie quarterbacks are 11-16 against Lewis and the Bengals, combining for 196.7 passing yards per game, 27 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Cincinnati is 3-3 in games against quarterbacks making their first career start, however those quarterbacks combined for only one passing touchdown.

The latest was Savage, who made his first start against the Bengals in a 12-10 Texans' victory last season.

In those six games, opposing quarterbacks have completed 59 percent of their passes with one touchdown, four interceptions and an average of 153.8 yards per game.

The three rookies in those six games were Joe Flacco, Jimmy Clausen and Johnny Manziel, who combined for 397 passing yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

The Bengals also faced Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott last season, who completed 18 of 24 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown in a 28-14 Dallas win.

The tricky part is preparing for a quarterback like Watson on a short week. The Bengals have only half a game of regular-season tape of Watson to assess.

“There [has been film] throughout the entire preseason," Lewis said. "That’s what they have. Whether it’s Tom Savage or Deshaun [Watson], it’s what they are. And it is a short week, like you said, so I don’t think we are going to see a new offense."