After a week off from action the Bills return this Sunday, but find themselves up against an imposing Houston Texans team with a probable midseason defensive MVP.
Texans' defensive end J.J. Watt enters Sunday's game with a league leading nine and a half sacks, already four more than he had in his rookie season last year.
The Former Wisconsin Badger also has 10 passes batted this season, four of which have turned into Houston interceptions. Bills' head coach Chan Gailey said Watt is more than just a running motor on the field, he's a menace.
"He has got great quickness," Gailey said. "He is an extremely quick football player. He does not play just your normal way that defensive linemen sometimes play. He will jump around a block, but then he is quick enough to go close his gap off. He is good enough and strong enough to close it down the traditional way. He is a dynamic football player. He really is. He is high energy, but he is a very unique player in the way he plays the game."
With Watt's ability to bat passes down, Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said it's an added layer to a defense that already knows how to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks ranking fifth in the league in sacks.
"I think in general they are a top five defense and he is one of the guys that makes them great," said Fitzpatrick of Watt. "Very good player. He has the deflected balls, he has the sacks, makes a lot of plays in the run game and gets a lot of pressure on the quarterback. That being said, it is not like I am going to change my arm angle when I throw or anything. You cannot do any of that. If a defensive lineman bats it down, he bats it down."
Fitzpatrick takes stock in the likelihood that if defenders are threatening to bat down passes it means the protection is sound.
"If you are getting a lot of batted balls, you hope that there is not a lot of pressure and they are sitting waiting back trying to trying to jump and bat them," he said. "They do a great job of getting pressure on the quarterback so it will be a big challenge for us. Not only up front, but the guys on the back end. They are in the top five for a reason."
Wide receiver Stevie Johnson admitted Fitzpatrick is already developing solutions to make sure he can get the ball past, or around, Watt's big mitts in the passing game.
"Fitz is going to make a few adjustments and we are doing alright now, I think it will carry over to Sunday." said Johnson. "It is very important to get open fast this week, but I think it is going to be more of Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) doing things because not only does this guy, (J.J.) Watt, get to the quarterback but he can also swat down passes."
Watt credits nothing but hard work to his success knocking passes out of the air.
"A lot of practice over the years and getting good at it over the years and kind of developing the instinct," said Watt, who also has a 35-inch vertical leap. "It's just something that I know when I'm not going to get a sack I want to affect the play some other way and that's a way I can do it. Even if I don't get the batted ball if I can make the quarterback even think about me being in the way that's a win because that means you're inside of his head and changing his thought process."
Bills' tackle Chris Hairston, a likely starter for Sunday's game with Erik Pears' doubtful, said Watt's athletic ability makes him dangerous to any offense.
"He plays cut blocks pretty well," Hairston said. "He knows how to get around blocks and play the man. That's what he does a great job at. It's best to just play hard and play how you're supposed to. It's not anything special you have to go do against him, but you have to bow up and really play hard against him because he'll take advantage of every mistake."