Thad’s Three Things: Bills vs. Texans

Buffalo Bills

HOUSTON, TEXAS – JANUARY 04: Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills leaps over Jahleel Addae #37 of the Houston Texans for a touchdown on a pass from John Brown #15 in the first quarter of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Three things in my head as we get ready for what will probably be a fun-filled afternoon of Bills domination against the Texans…

Sweep The Leg

You ever see the “Bills By A Million” hashtag? That might really be how it goes on Sunday. Buffalo is favored by 17 points in some places. Only twice in team history have they been favored by more.

If the Bills have a goal for this game, I think it should be to put Houston away quickly. Don’t play with your food. Just gobble the Texans up and spit them out like everyone expects. With the Chiefs up next on the schedule, it behooves Buffalo to put as little on film as possible. Nothing makes it easier to go vanilla with play calls then being up four touchdowns in the second half.

In addition, the Bills are already a touch beat up. Jordan Poyer won’t play (more on that below) and neither will Jon Feliciano. Taron Johnson also seems very questionable to play after missing practice Thursday and Friday. The less you have to expose your big-time players to live bullets, the healthier and better off you’ll be for the game that really matters next weekend in Kansas City.

Davis Deniers

For the second straight week, the Bills will be facing a quarterback that can’t count his starting experience beyond one hand. Just like last week against Taylor Heinicke, the Bills should have plenty of success confusing and confounding Davis Mills on Sunday.

Mills is not quite the same quarterback is Heinicke. He’s a little more conservative. He’ll probably stay in the pocket a bit more. He’s also less likely to make gunslinger-esque decisions. The Texans are actually third in the NFL with only two turnovers through three games and Mills did not turn it over once in his first start last week against Carolina (though he did have an interception in relief of Tyrod Taylor the week before).

It doesn’t mean the Bills are going to have any more difficulty winning the game. Just don’t expect a free-for-all in the secondary like they had last week against Washington.

So No Po’?

Sean McDermott will have to ponder a question Sunday he hasn’t dealt with in the last 60 regular season games. What to do without Jordan Poyer? Poyer has an ankle injury and will miss his first start since late October of 2017.

The Bills are deep at lots of positions. AJ Klein or Tyrell Dodson could easily fill in at linebacker if necessary. Ike Boettger will step in at guard this week for Feliciano with the Bills confident in the successful work Boettger did last year over his seven starts. The Bills rotate defensive lineman so freely that any one injury won’t cripple the group.

Safety is not one of those spots. It’s, in large part, because Poyer and Micah Hyde have been so dependably healthy. McDermott said Friday that any of Jaquan Johnson, Josh Thomas and Damar Hamlin could be the replacement for Poyer. My money is on Johnson the most experienced which, in this case, is all of 119 snaps on defense. That’s still 119 more than Thomas and Hamlin combined.

It will be fascinating to see which of the three or if all the three get an opportunity to prove they should be the number three safety. 

The Pick

I have to be honest. I really don’t care how the Bills look this Sunday. Just get the win.

If the game last week against Washington had not included the offensive fireworks Bills fans hoped to see at the beginning of the season, then I’d probably feel different. That situation might almost demand an offensive breakout against the Houston team that should offer very little resistance.

Since the Bills proved the MVP Josh Allen game is still in their arsenal, almost nothing that could happen this Sunday is going to change my opinion about what to expect next weekend in Kansas City in the game that really matters. They will have a chance to score with and play with and beat the Chiefs.

If Buffalo doesn’t look as good against Houston as expected, I am simply going to chalk it up to a weird game against a less than motivating opponent. No doubt, beating the Texans by five touchdowns will be better than by one and if a Tyler Bass last second field goal is needed to win, it would be less than encouraging for their fans.

I also don’t think the Texans should be dismissed as a disaster out of hand. While they are not very good, they aren’t the typical inexperienced pack of rookies that you would get with a rebuilding team. Most are veterans you’ll probably recognize. Some also likely sat on your fantasy bench for a while. These aren’t kids hoping for a miracle. They are professionals and should, at least, be respected as such.

I do still think this game ends up a romp and I think the score will be quite comfortable for Bills fans at the end of the day. Give me Buffalo 37-14.

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