Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans: Three Keys to the Game


If last week was a win or go home game, then I’m not sure what this week’s matchup is for the Buffalo Bills.

This week’s game against the Houston Texans is a “must win” in every sense of the phrase.

If the Bills drop to 5-7 they will almost surely be out of the hunt for one of the two AFC Wild Card slots.

But Buffalo is finally back at home and anything can happen at The Ralph.

Here’s this week’s Three Keys to the Game for the matchup with the Texans, which kicks off Sunday at 1 p.m. from Ralph Wilson Stadium:

1) Contain J.J. Watt.

J.J. Watt is the best player in the NFL right now and a matchup between the defensive stud and two backup offensive linemen doesn’t bode well for the Bills. But at the same time that doesn’t mean it’s game over.

Buffalo can do things to limit or neutralize the talented defensive lineman.

At no time should Watt be left one-on-one. Watt must be double- or  triple-teamed at all times. Whether its Kraig Urbik helping out Jordan Mills, a running back helping out Mills or Eric Wood and Mills helping out Urbik if Watt lines up inside. Extra attention must be given to the Houston defender.

If the Bills can limit Watt’s impact to just a sack or two and can run away from him, they should be able to move the ball enough to put points on the board.

2) Get Sammy Watkins the ball.

Every Bills fan knows that Sammy Watkins is a difference maker when he gets the ball, and it was evident last week against Kansas City.

Watkins had 158 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions in the first half last Sunday, in a game when Buffalo led at half time. But then the former first rounder didn’t have a catch in the second half and the Bills only scored six points and went on to lose the game.

It’s not hard to imagine that there’s a direct correlation between the two.

While Houston has a good pass rush, its secondary isn’t giving you any nightmares.

Watkins should matchup well this week against the Houston secondary and have an opportunity to make some plays.

Everyone knows that Rex Ryan wants to feed Watkins the ball, and with the Bills’ playoff lives on the line this is the game to do it.

3) Shut down DeAndre Hopkins.

With the injury to Arian Foster, wide receiver DeAnder Hopkins is Houston’s last, and only, playmaker left on offense.

After watching Jeremy Maclin have a field day against Buffalo’s secondary last week, it’s time for the defensive backs to step up.

Hopkins and Maclin are on two completely different levels, so the challenge will be even tougher this week.

However, Alex Smith is a different quarterback than Brian Hoyer. Instead of having to game plan for a quarterback’s running ability like they had to last week with Smith, Buffalo can actually rush the passer.

Even though he hasn’t been as effective this year, it’s nice to have Mario Williams back and should provide a much needed spark.

If Buffalo can rush the passer effectively, the secondary’s life will get much better.

Prediction: Bills win 24-17

J.J. Watt won’t have the monster game that many are expecting, but to the surprise of many Mario Williams will. LeSean McCoy will go for 100 all-purpose yards once again this week and will lead Buffalo to victory.

The Bills keep their playoff hopes alive for at least another week.