AFC Wild Card Preview: Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

AFC Wild Card: Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans

Time: Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET (ESPN)  

Open: Texans -3, Over/Under 39.5

Current: Texans -2.5, Over/Under 43

Buffalo Bills

Offense

22nd Overall per DVOA (23rd Passing / 17th Rushing)

24th Most Total Yards per Game (330.2)

26th Most Passing Yards per Game (201.8) / 8th Most Rush Yards per Game (128.4)

23rd Most Points per Game (19.6)

11th Least Giveaways (INTs & FUMs) (19)

Defense

6th Overall per DVOA (5th Against the Pass / 18th Against the Run)

3rd Least Total Yards Allowed per Game (298.3)

4th Least Passing Yards Allowed per Game (195.2) / 10th Least Rush Yards Allowed per Game (103.1)

2nd Least Points Allowed per Game (16.2)

14th Most Total Takeaways (INTs & FUMs) (23)

Special Teams

21st Overall per DVOA

Houston Texans

Offense

17th Overall per DVOA (15th Passing / 11th Rushing)

13th Most Total Yards per Game (362.0)

15th Most Passing Yards per Game (236) / 9th Most Rush Yards per Game (125.6)

14th Most Points per Game (23.6)

18th Least Giveaways (INTs & FUMs) (22)

Defense

26th Overall per DVOA (26th Against the Pass / 22nd Against the Run)

5th Most Total Yards Allowed per Game (388.3)

4th Most Passing Yards Allowed (267.3) / 8th Most Rush Yards Allowed (121.1)

14th Most Points Allowed per Game (24.1)

15th Most Total Takeaways (INTs & FUMs) (22)

Special Teams

5th Overall per DVOA

Keys to the Game

  • The Bills defense have been one of the best in the NFL, particularly against the pass and Deshaun Watson hasn’t been as good this year as he was last year, totaling over 300 less passing yards and over 130 less rush yards this season, compiling his most interceptions in a single season (12), ultimately leading to his lowest regular season passer rating yet (98.0).  Will Fuller is still working his way back from a groin injury, and Watson will need him on the field to challenge this stout Bills defense.

  • Houston’s defense has been crumbling before our eyes all season.  JJ Watt’s potential return should help, but it’s the secondary that’s being continuously burned this season.  Josh Allen doesn’t have playoff experience, but he’s looked decent this year increasing his completion percentage by 6% to 58.5%, cutting his interception percentage almost in half to just 2% and reduced his poor pass percentage by over 5% to 20.3%.  He’s running less, but is still averaging 4.7 yards per carry and will have the dynamic rookie RB, Delvin Singletary back.  With John Brown and Cole Beasley having breakout seasons, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Allen take advantage of Houston’s lackluster secondary.
  • Of course, the return of JJ Watt could cause complicate things for Allen as the Bills offensive line is ranked just 21st by Pro Football Focus.

  • On the other side, the Texans do have one of the most dynamic scoring offenses in the NFL, and Watson has shown more than once how he’ll take what the defense gives him, whether it be over the air or on the ground, particularly with uber-reliable WR DeAndre Hopkins, who’s had the 3rd most receptions (104) on the 5th most targets (15) and is responsible for the 3rd most first downs by reception (68) of any player in the NFL.
  • Finally, Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson have actually been pretty solid on the ground.  Hyde actually had his first 1,000+ rush yard season of his career and Johnson has been in the top 10 of the Pro Football Focus’ elusive rating all season.  If there’s a weakness in the Bills defense, it’s on the ground, and perhaps Hyde and Johnson can take advantage.
  • Keep an eye on Special Teams with Houston having the edge there.  This is a close enough game that one Special Teams mistake can make the difference.

Prediction

Bills beat the Texans by a score of 20 to 17.

 

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