Matching Up: Bills Defense vs. Texans Offense

01/04/2020
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The day has come, Bills Mafia. The Buffalo Bills are in Houston to take on the Texans in the NFL’s wildcard round. It’ll be the second playoff appearance in three years for Buffalo, and this time the team looks better-prepared to achieve the goal of reaching the divisional round for the first time since 1995. Let’s start this preview looking at the matchup between the Bills’ defense and the Texans’ offense:

Bills defensive rankings:

  • 3rd in total yards per game (298.3)
  • 4th in passing yards per game (195.2)
  • 10th in rushing yards per game (103.1)
  • 2nd in points per game (16.2)
  • 10th in takeaways (23)
  • 6th in DVOA (Football Outsiders)

Texans offensive rankings

  • 13th in total yards per game (362.0)
  • 15th in passing yards per game (236.4)
  • 9th in rushing yards per game (125.6)
  • 14th in points per game (23.6)
  • 18th in giveaways (22)
  • 17th in DVOA (Football Outsiders)

Injury Report:

The two units should be pretty close to full force, with just two players each in danger of missing the game. Defensive end Shaq Lawson (hamstring) and cornerback Levi Wallace (ankle) are listed as questionable for the Bills, and wide receiver Will Fuller (groin) and tight end Jordan Akins (hamstring) are listed as questionable on the Texans’ side.

Overview:

The Bills’ elite defense will be taking on a middle-of-the-pack Texans offense on their home field. Despite some unimpressive numbers, this Houston squad has some top-notch talent at their disposal, led by quarterback Deshaun Watson. One of the top dual-threat QBs in the game, he will be a handful to deal with for this Buffalo defense, having the ability to single-handedly change the dynamic of the game. Watson was responsible for 34 touchdowns in 2019, 26 passing, seven rushing, and one receiving, showing his capacity to put stress on opposing defenses in a variety of ways.

Another elite talent in this offense is All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins (104 receptions on 150 targets, 1,165 yards and seven TDs). Arguably the best receiver in the game, he can be a nightmare for any defensive back and should draw the attention of the Bills’ best defensive player, All-Pro CB Tre’Davious White. The Watson-to-Hopkins connection is the biggest threat for this Buffalo defense.

On the other hand, Houston is in danger of playing this pivotal game without two of their top four pass catchers in 2019. As mentioned above, WR Will Fuller (49 receptions on 71 targets, 670 yards and three TDs) and TE Jordan Akins (36 receptions on 55 targets, 418 yards and two TDs) are questionable to play, and even if they do, they should be limited. Fuller is a big piece of this offense, being Watson’s main target on deep shots. His absence should severely impact the Texans’ game plan and allow the Bills to send more help Hopkins’ way.

On the ground, RB Carlos Hyde is the bell-cow and enjoyed a nice first season with the Texans, rushing for 1,070 yards and six TDs on 245 carries (4.4 yards/carry average). He’s a physical runner and has taken advantage of his QB’s threat on option plays to be more efficient. Duke Johnson is the complementary back, being more involved in the passing game (44 receptions on 62 targets for 410 yards and three receiving TDs). It’s a solid backfield that is capable of establishing the running game and keeping opposing defenses honest.

Overall, it’s a talented but underachieving unit, in my opinion. Coaching factors in here, as this offense, with these types of players, should be more prolific. They have the talent to beat the Bills, but they don’t have the schemes or execution. If Buffalo can play their normal brand of defense, keeping Houston’s running game in check and making them one-dimensional, then I really like their chances. This defense has been stellar all year long, and Fuller’s potential absence could become a huge problem for the Texans.

Key matchup: CB Tre’Davious White vs WR DeAndre Hopkins

Prediction: Advantage Bills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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