The Houston Texans (6-5) are officially on a roll. This week they take the show on the road to a "Scene of Houston Horrors Past" as they travel to take on the Buffalo Bills (5-6).
At this point, there is no denying the Texans' defense has turned a corner. Romeo Crennel's unit (um) has surrendered a total of 35 points in the last four games, including only six points in three of those four games. That is lunacy - and two of those games were against actual NFL offenses/quarterbacks in the Bengals / Andy Dalton and Saints / Drew Brees.
The offense? Well, let's not get crazy. I fully expect the running game to turn into a pumpkin again when we're playing, you know, non-Saints defenses. That said, the way Bill O'Brien has opened up the playbook helps to offset the fact that the parade of "just-a-guys" who run in lieu of Arian Foster are not exactly producing right now. I mean, even with the television angles, you could see against the Saints that Foster would likely have had a 200-yard rushing game with the holes the offensive line was opening.
Let's get to the staff's predictions. Feel free to discuss in the comments and make your own predictions as well:
Chris HDH - Texans 19, Bills 17.
Although Houston has had a lot of success in recent weeks, I feel like a quarterback who is at least somewhat of a running threat is still a problem. I don't think it's enough to overcome how well this defense has been playing, but I do think it will have an impact and make this an uncomfortably close game. Nick Novak is going to have to have a solid game for Houston to get a win in a tough building. That said, Buffalo's defense is certainly better on paper than it is on the field. Mario Williams had been rumored to miss this game, but he did practice on Wednesday, so he is likely to be available.
This is a huge game for the Texans' 2015 playoff hopes, especially in the context of staying in the wild card race. I think Houston gets a tough, if un-spectacular victory in Buffalo, setting up a huge showdown with New England at NRG Stadium the following Sunday night on NBC.
kdentify - Texans 17, Bills 10.
This week, the Texans travel to Buffalo to take on Rex Ryan's Bills. Outside of the questions at quarterback, the Bills were expected to be an improved team, able to build upon a strong defense and the talents of LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins to overcome the limitations of EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor to challenge for a playoff spot and finally ease their fans' suffering.
The wheels didn't fall off the wagon so much as the wagon imploded, with injuries and ineptitude leading to public commentary by players about their coaches. When Ryan was hired, thoughts of him building a shutdown defense danced in my head, but despite being a defensive coach, Ryan's defense hasn't been lights out this season. If Brian Hoyer can avoid throwing INTs (the Bills have 11) or getting sacks (they have a total of 16), this should be a pretty good game for us. If our defense can pressure their offensive line and sack Taylor (they've given up 30 sacks so far), we should be able to handle the combination of McCoy and Watkins and come out with a win. I still won't get my ideal 2-0 score, but I do think the Texans should win this one in a gloriously ugly game.
Brett Kollmann - Texans 20, Bills 14.
I think this game entirely depends on the defense's ability to contain Tyrod Taylor. He has an uncanny ability to convert long third downs with his legs, and in a game that will likely come down to one or two possessions those legs could make or break this match-up. He isn't "just" a running quarterback, however, as Taylor has proven thus far to be an efficient pocket passer who has no qualms about throwing deep bombs to Sammy Watkins at every possible opportunity. I believe he is the quarterback that Bills fans have been waiting for since the selection of EJ Manuel a few years back, and he absolutely can steal this game from the Texans just based on raw talent alone.
That being said, this Houston defense has been playing out of their freakin' minds for the last four games, so it is not crazy to think that the Bulls on Parade can continue their streak of dominance against a Bills offense that has run hot and cold all season long.
Matt Weston - Texans 24, Bills 13.
I'm really sad. The Buffalo Bills had the second-best defense in the NFL last year. This year, they are 23rd. Rex Ryan took a team perfect for a 4-3 and switched it to his mold of a 3-4. This, along with injuries, has turned one of the most fun units in football into a meek bunch. As a fan of the game, this makes me sad.
As a fan of the Houston Texans though, this makes me ecstatic. Houston should be able to scrounge up 24 points like they have been lately against this Bills defense. On the other side, Houston has a top ten defense now, and after holding better units like Cincinnati and New Orleans to 6 points each, they should be able to stifle Buffalo as well.
I expect for it to be close since Houston doesn't have the quarterback play to blow teams out. I think the difference will be Buffalo having problems in the red zone, thanks to Tyrod Taylor's accuracy issues. Buffalo kicking field goals rather than scoring touchdowns leads to Houston winning.
The Texans go 4-0 in the hardest part of their schedule and continue to push their way to Week 17.
bfMFd - Texans 27, Bills 13.
The Buffalo Bills are oddly in the same place we were at the beginning of the season. Especially on defense, the Bills' talent doesn't fit their scheme; thus, the coaching staff isn't putting its players in a position to succeed. With Texan alumni Mary O'Williams possibly out for the game, yet another key piece of talent is missing for the Bills defensively. Trading Kiko Alonso for LeSean McCoy was the only decent move Chip Kelly made in the offseason, which should tell you something about the outcome for the Bills.
When the Texans are on defense, the match-up looks scarily similar to the Chiefs in the first game of the year. Slightly above average, athletic game manager at QB who can make a play or two with his legs, a silly-talented RB, and game-changers at WR. Though he's not bad, TE Charles Clay is no Travis Kelce, and we've struggled covering TEs this year.
For three games in a row now against a couple talented offensive squads (beating up on the BE-SFs still doesn't count), the Houston Texans' defensive trend is on fire. Three weeks ago, I saw this as a loss at Buffalo. However, with Buffalo expecting summer-like weather on Sunday and the Texans trending in the right direction, I like your Houston Texans in a game that should resemble the win against New Orleans.
Why is the masthead always so negative?
Capt. Ron - Texans 28, Bills 3.
Kevin Johnson gets a pick-six as the defense dominates all four quarters. DeAndre Hopkins has a better afternoon than his former teammate, Sammy Watkins, hauling in two touchdowns and more than 150 yards receiving.
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