Top 3 Individual Matchups
1. Drayton Florence vs. Andre Johnson – Johnson leads the league in receiving yardage and though he may not be 100 percent (lung contusion), he's still as dangerous as they come. Johnson lines up on Florence's side of the field. Whether the Bills choose to have top corner Terrence McGee shadow Johnson all game remains to be seen.
2. Demetrius Bell vs. Mario Williams – With 28 sacks in his last 38 games there are few pass rushers more productive than the Texans' Williams the past two-plus seasons. The Bills' first-year left tackle will need some assistance from the tight ends and backs to slow down one of the premier pass rushers in football.
3. Lee Evans vs. Dunta Robinson – Buffalo's top wideout has been coming on the past two weeks posting touchdowns in his last two outings, but he'll be going against one of the harder hitting cornerbacks in the league in Robinson, who has 13 career INTs.
Top 2 Bills Advantages
Good advantage – Slaton's slippery hands – This might not seem like much, but seeing how much Buffalo has benefitted from the turnover the past two weeks, you've got to know that they'll be zeroed in on Houston RB Steve Slaton, who has half of his team's fumbles (6) through seven games. Slaton has lost four of those fumbles and it has clearly become a psychological issue in addition to a physical one.
In fact in the last two games two other fumbles have been overturned on challenges, so he arguably has eight on the season. Buffalo will be looking to get extra hands and helmets on the football when Slaton is carrying it.
Best advantage - Third down defense – After finishing fourth in the league last season in third down defense, the Bills are again in the top 10 in that category this year. Buffalo is getting off the field on third down almost two-thirds of the time (65.7%) good for ninth in the league. Houston, despite their offensive prowess this season is in the bottom third of the league when it comes to converting (21st).
Bills Number 1 Must
Force turnovers – Takeaways have been the saving grace for the Bills and the main reason why they've won their last two games. Buffalo's turnover parade must continue to have a chance at slowing down Houston's multiple weapon attack. The Bills will need at least two and probably three to give their offense more opportunities to score.
Not to SchaubyMatt Schaub is not the household name that Peyton Manning or Drew Brees might be, but he's playing every bit as good as those perennial Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Schaub currently leads the league in passing yards with 2,074 and touchdown passes with 16. His passer rating of 104.4 ranks fourth in the NFL.
What's even more impressive is his touchdown to interception ratio. In a league where a 2:1 TD-to-INT ratio is considered very good, Schaub has a ratio of almost 4:1 (16 TDs, 5 INTs).
In addition, Schaub has played better on the road with 10 touchdowns against two interceptions away from home. He's one of the main reasons the team is averaging almost 440 yards per game on the road good for second best in the league. Houston is also averaging better than 27 points per game away from home (27.6).
Since December of last season Schaub leads the NFL with an average of 305 passing yards per game.
Third down targetHouston tight end Owen Daniels is having a career year thus far this season. Leading the league among tight ends in receiving yardage (497) and second in receptions (39), Daniels is on pace for 89 catches for over 1,100 yards and 11 TDs.
Where Daniels has helped Houston's offense the most is on third down. The Texans' tight end has accounted for 27 of the team's 95 passing first downs this season (28.4%). His third down reception total (11) ranks second in the league among tight ends, with only the Colts' Dallas Clark (12) ahead of him.
The Texans' defense had more than its share of problems defending the run early in the season, but once the calendar turned to October, Houston's run front has tightened up considerably. After surrendering an average of 205 rushing yards per game in their first three games of the season, Houston has held opponents to an average of just 48.5 rushing yards per game.
That figure leads the NFL as none of Houston's last four opponents has been able to crack 60 rushing yards.
The success against the run has created more third and long situations for their opponents and the Texans have been getting off the field more frequently on third down. Houston has forced their opponents to go three-and-out better than 36 percent of the time (31-85). Their 31 three-and-outs are the most in the NFL this season.
As a result the Texans have improved their overall defense. Through the month of October Houston is tied for fifth in the league, giving up just 274.5 total yards per game.
The Bills aren't the only NFL team that has been proficient at taking the ball away this season. Buffalo is tied for second in the league with 15 total takeaways, but Houston is hot on their heels tied for fourth in the league with 13 of their own.
The Texans have relied more on forced fumbles than interceptions however, as nine of their 13 turnovers have come on fumble recoveries. Rookie Brian Cushing leads the team with two forced fumbles.
Strong specialistsThe Bills typically have the upper hand when it comes to matchups on special teams, but the Texans could prove to have an edge in this game. Houston ranks third in punt coverage allowing barely over four yards a return (4.1) and is tops in the league in kickoff coverage surrendering less than 20 yards a return (19.6).
Conversely, their return game is dangerous. Punt returner Jacoby Jones already has a 95-yard free kick return (following a safety) for a touchdown, and had a 68-yard punt return called back on penalty last week.
Former Bills special teamer Andre Davis has also fared well on kick returns averaging close to 24 yards with a long of 63 yards this season.
The Bills aren't the only team with a playmaking rookie on the defensive side of the ball. Texans LB Brian Cushing is Houston's leading tackler through the first seven games, leads all NFL rookies in tackles and stands ninth in the league in that category. He also has two forced fumbles, an interception, a safety and a half sack so far this season. He's the only defender in the league this season with a sack, forced fumble, interception and safety.
Quote of the Week"We are fighting, we are pushing and that is the kind of guys we have in this locker room. Guys at the beginning of the year didn't think they would play and have been called upon. We have had guys step in and do a great job. To be 4-4 at the bye is going to be huge for us. We were sitting at 1-4 that was our goal. I think that everyone believed it could happen and we are one win away from that."
--QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Stat of the Week
Four of Buffalo's last five opponents have compiled less than 200 passing yards (96 at Jets, 22 vs. Clev., 156 vs. N.O., 86 vs. Mia.).
Milestones in reachJairus Byrd needs one interception for fourth consecutive game with an INT, which would tie a team record.
Lee Evans needs one touchdown reception to move into sole possession of third place on the Bills' all-time touchdown receptions list.
Brian Moorman (190) needs one punt downed inside the 20-yard line to set a new team record for punts inside the 20 in a career.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is 4-0 in his last four starts dating back to December of 2008.