Thomas B. Shea
What chance do the Bills have at pulling the upset?
The Buffalo Bills were a trendy pick by people to make the playoffs but have disappointed greatly this season. If the Texans play their 'A' game, they should win this game by two touchdowns. There is always some concern with a team that looks like a lock to make the playoffs, maybe not taking a bad team seriously and having a let down game, but I don't think that will happen this week. The Texans look like a guarantee to make the playoffs, but they're playing for more than just a playoff spot at this point. They're playing for home field advantage to set themselves up for a run to the Super Bowl; I expect them to come out and still play like a hungry team with something to prove.
Texans Offense vs. Bills Defense:
No other way to put it, the Bills have been awful on defense against the run this season. They're giving up 176.9 yards per game (last in the league), giving up six yards per carry (last in the league, 2nd worst is 5.1), and have allowed 13 rushing touchdowns this season (last in the league, second worst is nine). On top of that, Foster has gone over 100 yards rushing and/or scored a touchdown in every game.
The Bills rank a little better against the pass, but that's probably just because it's so easy to run against them. They rank 22nd in passing yards allowed per game, 25th in passing touchdowns allowed, 24th in opposing quarterbacks QB rating, and 20th in pass plays over 20 yards allowed. Part of their struggles in pass coverage has been the poor performance and lack of pass rush from their highly paid defensive line. Former third overall pick at defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has been a bust so far, and over paid free-agents Mario Williams and Mark Anderson have not gotten the type of pressure Bills fans expected. To make matters worse, Anderson is listed as out for this game and Williams is recovering from surgery on his hand during the bye week. They're getting no pass rush and their secondary isn't covering well; the Texans could have a big day through the air as well.
Texans Defense vs. Bills Offense:
In their last game, the Texans recorded four sacks, two interceptions, one safety, and a touchdown in their domination of Baltimore. When looking at their rank in yards gained, the Ravens and Bills offenses are very similar. The Ravens rank 16th in yards, the Bills rank 19th but the similarities don't stop there. The strength of both offenses is their run game, and both quarterbacks struggle with turnovers, especially on the road. Check out the road/home splits for Ryan Fitzpatrick this season.
Home: 251 yards per game, 63.4% completion, 98.5 QB rating, 8.10 yards per pass attempt
Road: 170.5 yards per game, 59.2% completion, 76.8 QB rating, 5.46 yards per pass attempt
The one thing the Bills do well on offense, and maybe the only thing on the whole team, is run the ball. They have two backs that can beat you, but the one I'm most concerned about is C.J. Spiller. The Texans rank third in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, but a large part of that is due to them blowing out their opponent, forcing them to stop running the ball in the second half. Against the Texans, Reggie Bush averaged 4.9 yards per carry and Chris Johnson averaged 5.6 yards per carry, but both teams lost by 20 or more and had to air it out in the second half in an attempt to catch up. Both of the Bills backs are capable of gashing the Texans, but I'm most concerned about Spiller as a receiver. If the Bills are able to get Spiller matched up on a linebacker, he could turn a five yard pass into a long touchdown. The Texans simply don't have a linebacker that can cover him. In obvious pass situations they'll need to put a safety or slot corner on him in coverage.