Houston (6-1) returns from their bye week to host the Buffalo Bills, who are also coming off their bye in an early game this Sunday (noon, CST). Both teams list a whopping 15 players as probable as of Friday. For the Bills, Offensive lineman Chad Rinehart (ankle) and defensive end Mark Anderson (knee) are out. Right tackle Erik Pears (hip) and cornerback Terrence McGee (knee) are doubtful. Left tackle Cordy Glenn (ankle) and defensive tackle Kyle Williams (ankle) are questionable. The big blow to Houston is that Ben Tate (hamstring) will be out for Sunday’s game.
Here’s what to watch for:
Mario Williams vs. Duane Brown
Houston’s 2006 #1 overall pick, defensive end Mario Williams, will play his first game at Reliant Stadium for an opposing team. Williams signed to a 9-figure contract this offseason with Buffalo, the most expensive signing in Buffalo history. Super Mario, not to my surprise, has been pushed around all season, but he should be motivated this game. Duane Brown has given the AP every reason to upgrade last season’s second-team All-Pro selection to a first-team pick. This will be the most high-profile facet of Sunday’s game.
Arian Foster vs. Buffalo’s Run Defense
The Buffalo Bills are dead last in some very important categories. They are allowing 6.0 yards per carry and have given up 13 rushing touchdowns, the worst marks in the NFL by a big margin. Their 32.4 points allowed per game is also a league worst. That doesn’t bode well for Buffalo with Arian Foster, arguably the league’s best ground weapon, facing off against the Bills this week. Gary Kubiak has come out with mind-boggling offensive gameplans before, but he has no reason to stray from the run this week.
Wade Phillips, the last Bills head coach to take the Bills to the playoffs, will butt heads with Chan Gailey’s creative offensive mind. The Bills have allowed the third-least sacks in the league and recorded the second-best yards per carry in the NFL. On paper, Houston’s defense doesn’t match up well against Buffalo, but only a fool would bet against J.J. Watt and the gang.
Don’t expect a lot of stops in this game. The clock will continue to run all day, as the teams pound the rock successfully over and over. The solid Texan run defense will be the difference against the league-worst Bills run stuffing unit.
HOU 34, BUF 20