"Welcome to Buffalo!!!"
Just days before the Texans go to Buffalo to square off at the Ralph, the Bills' rookie safety Jairus Byrd was awarded the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month of October...proof that there is more than one NFL rookie that plays hard and ends up finding himself in the right place at the right time. Byrd was aided in his selection by his record tying 5 interceptions during the month. I think one of the biggest things he had to overcome to get where he is, so quickly, is he underwent sports hernia surgery just before training camp started (there's a joke in there somewhere) and now here he is. Last week he was the beneficiary of two Jake Delhomme overthrown balls. Thank you! Both passes to open receivers that could only be handled by the trailing defensive player. But, congrats to Byrd. It's a great honor that he deserves and I won't insult him by saying that even I could have caught those balls, although there probably are some folks reading this that think they could...ba-dum...tssshhhh!
Now, TO hasn't been lighting it up in any sense this year. Not on the field or off it, and that is a FIRST for him! But, if there is anything that is keeping him motivated it is his personal rivalry, in his own mind, with Roy Williams. You remember...TO used to play for the Dallas Cowboys, who traded to get Roy Williams last season, then the Cowboys waived TO, and Roy was anointed the No. 1 WR for the Cowboys, and then TO signed with what was probably the only team that made him an offer, the Buffalo Bills??? Here's the stat sheet: TO - 18 receptions, 242 yards, 7 drops (league leading) and 1 TD; Roy - 12 receptions, 230 yards, less than 4 drops and 1 TD. Well, it's a close battle and I'm here to say that no one is winning!
The rumor about the Bills is that they have been winning ugly. They come into this week's game having given up over 200 rushing yards per game in the last three games, with significant plays coming on outside runs. They are now last in the league in rushing defense. Where they have been excelling is receiving game-changing gifts, as in the two overthrown Delhomme interceptions last week and stellar play from their special teams. I kind of relish that description of their team because (1) I want to see Slaton take the ball to the outside more; I think that is one of his strengths; (2) I don't think of Matt Schaub as a QB that makes a lot of open field overthrows; and, (3) I want to see what I think is a strength, the Texans special teams, up against another teams' strengths. I think it's an opportunity for the Texans to try to dominate the other team if they can offset that team's strength.
The last time the Bills and Texans played, the unmentionable Mittens tied an NFL record with 22 consecutive pass completions. That was also the game where Lee Evans scampered for two 83 yard TD completions as the Bills rallied to win 24-21. JP Losman had the last laugh with a TD pass to Peerless Price with 0:09 left.
Now while Byrd has managed to find himself and get awarded for it, too, another Bills rookie, #7 overall pick Aaron Maybin has been less than stellar as a 250 pound DE in his first year and Bills fans are trying to justify why, without calling him a bust after just seven games. But, as Connor Barwin can testify and all-world Mario Williams too, the DE position isn't an easy one to just step into in the NFL and immediately excel. However, that being said, here's hoping that with Andre Johnson being hobbled, the Texans can capitalize on his early rookie hardship continuing for one more week!
If there is one part of the Bills offense that has started clicking it is Fitzpatrick over the middle to Lee Evans and as mentioned earlier, Evans has been there before against the Texans. Last week, the Niners' Vernon Davis, who is really a WR in a TE body, had a career day over the middle with 3 TD's, so let's hope the speedy Evans doesn't repeat that scene this week. Stop it! I said, "No cryin'!"
Anyways, the Buffalo Bills is a real team to fear, I fear. They will not blow anyone away, but you can't forget, they are an NFL team with NFL players and NFL coaches. The Texans come into this game on a two-game streak and against a weaker opponent, so they have to guard against complacency and beating themselves. That means they have to play clean ball; no turnovers. They have to stick with what they know and do best. This is not the game to try, try again to be a running team. Run if it is working. If it is not working go to what you know works and that is mixing up the passing game with long, short, middle and outside. On defense, find out what works and do it even harder. I don't ever want to see the prevent defense against someone like Lee Evans. They need to keep the ball out of his hands so he has no chance to make a play. The score? 31-21! I would like to see the Texans score even more, but I actually think that this WILL be a game where Steve Slaton's game breaks out and we will see a lot of that in the second half, keeping the score down to the low 30's for the visiting team...and, let's hope it's not too windy and cold!
But if you're looking to take the chill off before the game starts and you forgot to celebrate Oktoberfest, here's something for you to do, St. Arnold Brewing Co. is opening their new brewing headquarters close to downtown Houston and they are open to the public starting this Saturday. Located at 2000 Lyons Ave in a newly refurbished 4-story, 95 year-old warehouse, they will produce 35,000 barrels of beer in the upcoming year and they will be capable of producing 100,000 barrels of beer annually.