Buffalo Bills Vs. Houston Texans: What To Look For


The Houston Texans were gliding through the first two weeks of football but ran into a brick wall against the New York Giants last week.

The Giants exposed many weaknesses that the Texans have and it sure didn’t look pretty as it was happening.

They were having their way with the team as they were able to get yardage on the ground and in the air.  They also forced three turnovers — all three belonging to Ryan Fitzpatrick from the picks that he threw.

Arian Foster wasn’t available because he was nursing a hamstring injury so this definitely meant the offense had to rely on Fitz to throw the ball more as Alfred Blue became more acclimated in being the focal part of the running game.

All of this led to the loss that was sustained this past Sunday.

But the team will continue to work on what went wrong and will regroup for this week’s match up against the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills have gotten off to a hot 2-1 start after an impressive win over the Chicago Bears in Week 1 and they have seemed to carry that momentum so far.

They can be a dangerous team so the Texans cannot take them lightly.

The must execute with precision on both ends of the football in order to get this win, which won’t be a cakewalk.

The 12th man, the crowd, must as fiery as ever to give them the home field advantage that’s needed.   It can be done!

As the Texans take the field this Sunday, here’s some things to look for position-wise:

QUARTERBACK:  Fitz was pretty darn bad this past Sunday.  He looked like the QB of old — throwing for a ton of yards but his picks marring his entire performance.  Up until last Sunday, Fitz had attempted 45 passes, to which he lead the league in that category.  He was cautious, careful and handed the ball to Foster whenever things weren’t there.  But with Foster out, he had no choice to throw the football.  And did he.  He was 20-for-34 for 289 yards with two touchdowns — one passing, one rushing — with those three ugly picks.  Those picks caused his QB rating to tumble to an awful 59.6.  If Foster is back in the fold, then his numbers will be better; but, if not, Fitz will likely struggle with likely the same output.  I certainly hope that he has worked on the causes of him throwing the picks in the first place.  The Bills aren’t really good at the pass rush —  so at least Fitz has that attribute in his favor.  The Bills are 26th in the league in pass defense giving up 267 yards so far.  E.J. Manuel, the Bills’ first-round pick from 2013 is in his 2nd year as their signal-caller.  He has been quite efficient for them going 55-for-87 for 613 yards with a 63.2 completion percentage this season.  He has thrown for three touchdowns with one interception for a 90.8 QB rating.  He is the motor to the Bills’ engine and it seems fine-tuned at the moment.  Manuel doesn’t do anything fancy — he stays in the pocket, does his damage from there and that formula is working.  Expect Manuel to be pressured a bit by the Texans pass rush because they’re looking to redeem themselves from last week’s lackluster performance.

Sep 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Houston Texans running back

Alfred Blue

(28) rushes the ball during the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

RUNNING BACK:  Foster is still considered day-to-day and will be a game-time decision this Sunday as he is on the mend.  I doubt that he will be available because we have quality backups in-the-waiting with Blue, Jonathan Grimes and Ronnie Brown.  Foster is such a key our wins but I honestly we have the staff available to beat the Bills.  Blue was the Texans’ leading rusher last week with 13 carries for 78 yards averaging right at six yards per carry.  Most notably, he found a hole in the Giants defense and was able to make a beautiful, 46-yard burst late in the 3rd quarter last week.  Grimes and Brown were used very little.  I still expect Blue to be leader again this week with Grimes and Brown as supporting cast members.  The Bills have only given up a stingy 83 yards this season for 5th in the league.  It may be tough to get our running game going against them but we’ll see.  C.J. Spiller is their top back — he has 37 carries for 147 yards — four yards per carry — with no touchdowns.  It’s imperative that our D-Line stop him because he can be punishing when let loose to do his thing.

Sep 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver

DeAndre Hopkins

(10) makes a catch against New York Giants cornerback

Prince Amukamara

(20) at MetLife Stadium. The play was called back by a Texans penalty. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

WIDE RECEIVER:  With as bad as the Bills are with the pass rush, I fully expect that our wide outs will be targeted heavily.  DeAndre Hopkins, Andre Johnson and Damaris Johnson will be the focal points.  Once again, Hopkins was the leader in receiving yards last week — catching six balls for 116 yards.  He had an impressive 49-yard catch just before the end of the first half when Fitz went deep to the middle.  It would’ve been 53 yards but Tyson Clabo was penalized for being involved in a illegal formation costing the team five yards.  Damaris Johnson completed his first touchdown catch with Texans late in the third quarter off another deep 44-yard pass from Fitz that looked extremely synchronized.  The deepest threat at wide out for the Bills is Sammy Watkins and the Texans have to be careful not to let him get open.  He has been suffering from a rib injury since last month so he may not have the explosiveness that he’s known for.  He has 13 receptions for 167 yards averaging 12.1 yards per carry with one touchdown this season.  I see another triple-digit catching performance from Hopkins.

Sep 21, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end

Mario Williams

(94) during the first half against the San Diego Chargers at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

DEFENSE (FRONT 7 & SECONDARY):  This unit as a whole has to step up after getting creamed last week by the Giants.  They’re currently 18th in pass defense holding teams to 243 yards per game and 25th in rush defense holding opponents to 142 yards per game.  They’ve given up 425 rushing yards so far this season.  The bright spot is that five of the six leading tacklers for the Texans are part of the secondary.  Johnathan Joseph and Kendrick Lewis have 21 each, D.J. Swearinger has 17 tackles, A.J. Bouye has 14 tackles and Kareem Jackson has 12.  Bouye may not be available as he is healing from a groin injury.  Defensive end Mario Williams will be returning back to Houston for the first time in nearly two years in a different uniform.  It remains to be seen what his impact will be for this game but I’m sure he’ll be an important part of their run defense.  Williams has eight tackles and two sacks on the season so far.  I’m sure you’ll hear some boos at NRG Stadium on his return because of the six-year, $100 million dollar deal that he signed away from the Texans in 2012.  I understand his motive of securing his financial future but Houston fans don’t forget — I can’t speak for all fans but I’m sure most feel he’s overrated and overpaid!  Furthermore, the Bills usually do a decent job of protecting Manuel — he has been sacked four times this season — but I expect J.J. Watt will punch through their offensive line and get a sack or two.

Aug 28, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans kicker Chris Boswell (2) kicks as punter

Shane Lechler

(9) holds before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

PUNTER: Shane Lechler has been out all week receiving treatment for an injured left hip flexor that occurred during a block punt last week.  He will be a game-time decision and if he isn’t a go, Chris Boswell will get the nod.  Boswell punted 15 times averaging 44.3 yards per punt during the preseason.  He signed with the Texans before the start of training camp as an undrafted free agent out of Rice U — he was cut last month but was signed to the practice squad Wednesday as insurance just in case Lechler could not play.  They brought in four free agent punters this week to work out but it seems Boswell is the better option because they wouldn’t have to worry about cutting someone else to make room on the roster.  That would’ve been the case if they would’ve brought a punter off the street.  Lechler will not be out all too long and Boswell more than capable of handling the duties — this also allows him to heal properly because he will be needed immensely down the stretch.

More from Houston Texans

And there you have it — there are lots of things to look for in this week’s match up, just enough to keep those eyeballs moving rapidly!

The Texans take on the Bills at NRG Stadium tomorrow at noon.

The game will be televised on CBS and broadcast on 610 SportsRadio AM/100.3 (KILT).

Go Texans!