The Houston Texans (10-6) and the Buffalo Bills (10-6) square off at NRG Stadium Saturday afternoon in the opener of the 2019 NFL Playoffs. Hopefully we can forget the recent Ghost of Home Playoff Games Past and kick this thing into high gear for a long run on the back of Deshaun Watson. Let’s see how the BRB staff sees this one unfolding.
Chris: Texans 17, Bills 14.
The world naps while the Texans inexplicably rely on the run game and a conventional passing attack to out-snooze the Bills. At some point Deshaun Watson will escape the pocket and make a big play (you know, like how the Texans normally get their big plays - outside the design of the actual offense unless Will Fuller is around). I see some missed field goals, some ugly football, and a total snoozefest - but I have been SO WRONG ALL YEAR and I have absolutely NO clue what this team is week to week, so take this all with a grain of salt.
Matt Weston: Texans 23, Bills 20.
Houston’s running attack doesn’t work in the way needed to really attack the Bills’ front, unless they focus more on running between the tackles, utilize their tight ends as little as possible at the second level, and get Duke Johnson more carries to break tackles. Second level and open field running after breaking tackles is the best way to move the ball against Buffalo. Carlos Hyde has a broken tackle rate of 13.3%; Johnson’s is double that. Without Will Fuller probably playing, I don’t think the passing game is going to do anything more than it typically does. Look for lots of DeAndre Hopkins slant routes and hole in the zone finds. The Texans will struggle to score.
It’s difficult for Buffalo to break 20 points, though. Josh Allen combines absurd downfield heaves with wide open misses. He’ll make a remarkable touch pass, throw the ball through the windows in zone coverage, and then throw it 15 yards over someone’s head. He has, however, been a better short thrower than he’s given credit for. John Brown and Cole Beasley have combined for almost 2,000 yards this season. It’s going to be up to Allen to find consistency against a putrid Houston short pass defense.
In the end, it’s going to be a one score game. It’s going to be close. It’s going to be absurd. I’m going with Houston just because Deshaun Watson is a better quarterback than Allen, as torn as I am and as much it breaks my heart to say that. With Watson at quarterback, Houston has the better shot at winning the turnover battle.
BFmf’nD: Bills 23, Texans 19.
I don’t know who’s more excited about this game: Big Matt, who ordered a split jersey of Watson and Allen just for this weekend, or Bill O’Brien, because it’s going to send this game back to 1930s football.
I think most of us will pick the Texans, and I understand. The one thing I keep going back to is that Josh Allen was beating us last year before getting hurt. It took Nathan Peterman doing what he does best—throwing interceptions—for us to notch the victory.
I think Allen’s mobility, as we really struggle with mobile quarterbacks, and our horrific short pass defense is what gives the Bills the advantage.
Otherwise, it’s going to be a slog. Like watching Carlos Hyde tote the rock for 36 yards on 18 carries? THIS IS YOUR GAME.
Kenneth L.: Texans 24, Bills 20.
Let’s be clear - and Matt’s prediction has already made it clear - this will be a one-possession game. You may as well put this game on one screen and casually watch “Days of Our Lives” on another screen because they will be equally boring. Both teams are overly committed to the run and feature strong run defenses, which means the tone of the game will be a hard-nosed battle of inches for the entire afternoon.
It’s arguably more important the Texans have Will Fuller in this game than J.J. Watt. Fuller’s impact on the offense cannot be understated. Yes, the Bills have high-quality secondary players, but between DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Kenny Stills, the Texans have enough weapons to move the ball against Buffalo.
Josh Allen’s ability to run the ball will be a major factor in the game. Expect the Texans to blitz, but they should be wary of exactly how much pressure they bring. If Allen gets free often, it’s going to force the Texans to pay more attention to him as a runner than we normally do, and that will allow long passes down the field to occur. Buffalo has a very fast receiver in Josh Brown; that worries me more than their stout running game.
If you are at NRG Stadium tomorrow, make your presence felt. Get loud! This is what we’ve been playing for!
Mike: Texans 37, Bills 34.
It may not always be true, but the concept of two grind-it-out, low scoring teams having a low scoring game seems to never quite pan out. With that in mind, I’m expecting the unexpected in a shootout between Watson and Allen. The game will probably grind along for the first few series, and then some big play (a J.J. Watt pick-six?) will open things up, and it’ll rapidly turn into a scoring frenzy of each team trying to keep pace with the other. I don’t know what the wild card record is for lead changes in a single game, but I could see this one breaking that record.
Ultimately, Houston has more firepower to win a game like this, with or without Fuller, and the All-Field Goal Offense saves the day kicking a game-winner in the final minutes.
TexanRevJ: Bills 24, Texans 21.
I’ve seen this movie before. In fact, this year feels really similar to last year’s playoff venture to me. I think this is a bad match-up for us. Throw in the fact that we may not have Will Fuller and Buffalo’s defense being good, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we struggle on offense.
That being said, Deshaun Watson could have one of his special games and completely flip the script. It’s part of what makes picking Texans games so frustrating. You’re never quite sure what you are going to get on a week-to-week basis.
I think the Bills win a close game, but I am rooting for the Texans and wouldn’t be surprised to see them win this game with the score reversed.
Capt Ron: Texans 24, Bills 21.
A missed field goal will be the difference. It’s a perfect one-possession victory from the King of One-Possession Games, the one and only Bill O’Brien. I fully expect the first half to be a frustrating viewing experience as both teams attempt to destroy each other through the window of the A-gap before a mistake leads to a special teams score before halftime. The Bills will open things up in the second half by attacking a poor Houston secondary, and then O’Brien will FINALLY unleash Deshaun Watson to “keep pace.” Prepare for many field goal attempts by both teams as the offenses stall out frequently in the red zone.
Notice I didn’t say to “blow the doors off the opponent,” but rather “keep pace.” That’s OB’s way, his style, and his signature: boring, one-possession, mind-numbingly predictable and frustrating game plans that unfold like a three-day-old waffle that was found in a ziplocked bag under a sack of carrots.
Tim: Texans 24, Bills 23.
The roof at NRG Stadium will surely be closed tomorrow despite what should be perfect weather, but it will blow off anyway when J.J. Watt is introduced with the rest of the defensive starters. It’s going to be a MOMENT, and I cannot wait to watch it.
Watt will play about 50% of Houston’s defensive snaps and find his way to 1.5 sacks, one of which will force a turnover. Deshaun Watson will see Watt’s legendary performance and raise the stakes, ultimately leading the home team on a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. As stout as Buffalo’s defense is, DW4 will not follow up last season’s poor playoff debut with another subpar performance. The Texans’ franchise quarterback will do what true franchise quarterbacks do—come through when his team needs him the most.
Give me the Texans in a game that turns out to be a lot more fun than most expect it to be.
Snoozefest or shootout? An all-time great playoff game, or an ugliness we will all want to instantly forget?
Give us your thoughts and predictions in the comments below. Above all else, you only get one life so HAVE FUN watching playoff football Saturday!