The Houston Texans come off of the bye week with a relatively easy opponent in the Buffalo Bills. They remain the top team in the AFC with a one game lead over the Baltimore Ravens who also had their bye last week and hold a two game lead over the Indianapolis Colts in the division.
The defense will probably have a slightly more difficult go of it than the offense considering the Bills run a high-octane spread style offense, but they should be able to stand their own and help get a win.
It is up to the front seven to prove to the fans and to Mario Williams that the team made the correct choice in letting him walk this summer. If they aren’t able to get pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick then it will not only look bad on them, but also give Williams a minor victory which is not something you want for a guy that left you.
Specifically, I expect Connor Barwin to come to play on Sunday, and my bold prediction of the week is that we will see his first multi-sack game of the season. While the team showed trust in the front seven as a whole by letting Williams leave in free agency, they showed a tremendous amount of trust in Barwin and this is his chance to show them they chose correctly.
Also, J.J. Watt had his first game without a sack against the Ravens so I look for him to come out hungry and want to get after a quarterback that will be passing early and often.
The secondary will have their hands full with pass-catching playmakers all over the field and it will be important to show that anytime a team decides to pass consistently on them, they won’t just roll over and die. Johnathan Joseph had a good bounce back game rendering Torrey Smith almost completely useless, but the Texans will require a similar performance by him this week against the electric Stevie Johnson.
The Texans also need strong performances from Kareem Jackson, Brice McCain and Danieal Manning along with needing Glover Quin Jr. to continue to be their jack of all trades. If the Texans can come out and cover their guys well enough, the front seven will cause Fitzpatrick fits all day.
All in all the special teams has been phenomenal to the midpoint this year. Whether Donnie Jones is rendering a punt unreturnable or Alan Ball is downing it at the one the punt team has been great. Also Shayne Graham has been lights out on field goals this year and Brian Braman has several huge hits against opposing returners. The lone setback the Texans have seen in special teams this year comes in the return game, but it is very possible that we will see Keshawn Martin make a significant contribution this weekend.
My Prediction: Texans over Bills 38-13