Week 9: Bills-Texans Preview

The bye week was good for the Bills. The team was able to nurse some injuries and get a few key players back to full health. Kraig Urbik will return to the offensive line with Cordy Glenn said to be “not far behind”. This will get the Bills that extra pass protection they were lacking over the last couple games. However, the big story of the week was Mario Williams’ secret procedure to repair his injured left wrist that he’s claimed is the reason for his poor performance this year. He’ll have a lot to prove this week as the Bills head down south to play Mario’s former team, the Houston Texans.

Williams and the defense will have their hands full with the run-heavy Texans offense. Houston is also coming off a bye week and riding the wave of a dominant 43-13 dismantling of the Ravens. Scoring two touchdowns in that game was their star running back, Arian Foster. He has 9 touchdowns already this season and back to back 2 score games. Foster needs to be accounted for this week as the Bills run defense, which is the worst in the league, tries to piece itself back together. After a miserable first 7 games, this defense needs to start playing with some intensity. I don’t know if it’s Dave Wannstedt’s passive schemes, but the linebackers just aren’t in position to make plays. We have fast, talented linebackers but, we’re giving up huge plays in the middle to running backs, slot receivers and tight ends. Hopefully, the Bills have spent the bye week patching up the chinks in their armor because the Texans are a team that finds weaknesses and exploits them. Look for Foster to pick up his 3rd 100 yard rushing game of the season and watch out for 6’ 3” tight end, Owen Daniels, to make his mark on the game as well.

In an interview with a Houston radio station this week, Mario Williams said that he didn’t want to leave the Texans for free agency but that the team wouldn’t keep him on the roster. After being snubbed by your team like that, most players would try to prove them wrong. Williams, however, seems to be proving that the Texans made the right move. His relaxed approach and soft play only proves that his heart just isn’t in it. Every week is a new excuse; whether it be his wrist or being double teamed or chip blocked. He’s making it obvious that he doesn’t want to be here. It’s easy for a player to hide in Buffalo because we don’t get the media attention that a larger market would get and we seem to think the most pedestrian of players are super stars. If he was just looking to make money and avoid the pressures of a big market franchise, this would be the perfect opportunity. I don’t want to believe that’s the case but, it’s hard not to think that way. Even Chris Kelsay called out Williams in an interview saying that there are “some players” that aren’t going full speed on every play. It’s obvious who he was hinting at. Williams needs to prove to the fans and to his teammates that he’s the missing link they were looking for. What better time than now?

The Texans defense is one of the best in the NFL. A big part of that is defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt is a quarterback’s worst nightmare. He’s leading the league in sacks with 9.5 and has 10 knocked down passes. The banged up offensive line will have a full day trying to keep Watt away from Fitzpatrick. With all the pressure that Watt brings, it leaves gaps in the defensive line. If Fitz can get the ball out fast enough and Spiller and Jackson can find those gaps, the Bills can be productive with running and short passes. Look for Spiller and Jackson to light it up Sunday. I hate to say it but, look for Gailey to not learn from experience and put Fitz into yet another long ball interception throwing situation early on.

As with every game this season, the Bills need to prove something Sunday. At 6-1 and brimming with confidence, Houston is a formidable foe. However, it is the Bills beating the Bills that has lead to the team’s disappointing performance so far. It’s the stupid penalties and the missed assignments on the field that have been dragging them down. If they can step out of their own shadow and focus on the team in front of them, they just might have a chance. So, we’ll see if the Bills decide to play themselves or the Texans this week.

– Josh Paufler

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