Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Cordy Glenn vs. J.J. Watt –** Buffalo's blind side protector will need to be at his best against the former NFL Defensive MVP (2012). Watt has been his usual disruptive self with two sacks and a pair of batted passes in three games.
2 – Stephon Gilmore vs. DeAndre Hopkins – It's a battle of first-round draft choices with Hopkins a legitimate deep threat for Houston's passing game. Gilmore will need to be physical and keep Hopkins in front of him.
3 – Robert Woods vs. Johnathan Joseph – Woods is looking to bounce back from a three-catch, 19-yard performance last week, but he'll have to do it against one of the Texans' most productive corners. Joseph is second on the team in tackles with a pair of forced fumbles.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Run game – It was far from productive last week, but the Bills still averaged four yards a carry against a quality San Diego front. This week they're facing a run front that's giving up more yards (141.7) on the ground per outing than their own fifth-ranked run game (140.7).
Best advantage – Pass rush – Buffalo's defensive front has had steady production through the first three games and is tied for third-most sacks in the league at eight. Ryan Fitzpatrick's passer rating in blitz situations hasn't been great so far this season with a mark of 68.9 good for 25th in the NFL.
Bills Number 1 Must
Limit yards after the catch
The Texans have two fantastic weapons on the outside in Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins, and both are great in accumulating yards after the catch. In fact through the season's first three weeks only the Cincinnati Bengals have a receiving tandem (Green, Sanu – 201 YAC) with more yards after the catch than Houston's Johnson and Hopkins (177 YAC). After giving up five pass plays of 20 yards or more last week, Buffalo's defensive backs have to rebound in a big way.
Texans' RB Arian Foster had back-to-back 100-yard rushing days in the first two weeks of the season, but a lingering hamstring injury kept him out of Houston's Week 3 loss to the Giants. Foster was a limited participant for much of the week in practice, but stands a chance of at least being a part-time contributor on Sunday. He will be a game time decision.
Houston's defense has been very effective in jarring the ball loose from opposing ball carriers so far this season. In their first three games they've managed to force six fumbles, which leads the NFL. All of them have been forced by members of the Texans' secondary with five recoveries. Perhaps most impressive is four of their fumble recoveries have come at or inside their own 10-yard line.
As a full-time starter for the Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick never threw more interceptions than touchdowns in a season, but there's no debating he threw his fair share. His 23 interceptions in 2011 led the NFL. Since then he's cut back on his INTs considerably. He had 16 in his last season with Buffalo and just 12 interceptions after taking over for an injured Jake Locker in Tennessee last year. This past week against the Giants however, Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions. He was hit as he threw on his first in MetLife Stadium. On the second he was under pressure and threw off his back foot. On his third interception Fitzpatrick overthrew TE Garrett Graham on a crossing route.
Out since the season opener with a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery, Houston's top draft choice Jadeveon Clowney will not be available for Sunday's game against the Bills. The timetable for his return was four to six weeks and this Sunday will only be the three-week mark in his rehabilitation.
Stepping into the lineup in his place is another first-round draft choice in Whitney Mercilus. The third-year pass rusher started all 16 games last season and logged a career-high seven sacks in 2013 with 18 quarterback hits and six tackles for loss.
Buffalo's offense is known as one of the most run heavy attacks in the NFL. The Bills rank fifth in the league in rush percentage at 49 percent, but Houston is even more run dependent than Buffalo. The Texans through the first three games this season are first in the league when it comes to rush percentage. Houston runs the ball more than 57 percent of the time (57.4%). And on 1st-and-10 they run the ball an astounding 63 percent of the time.
Moving the sticks
Favorable down and distance helps just about every offense when it comes to converting on third down. When Houston's offense gets in third and short, converting is practically a given. When the Texans' are facing 3rd-and-3 or less they convert an impressive 73.3 percent of the time. It's one of the main reasons they rank 11th in third down conversion percentage (43.9%). More than a third (36.5%) of their third down situations so far this season have been 3rd-and-3 or less.
Quote of the Week
"We're really going to be focused in this week. You definitely can't let one loss beat you twice. You can't be down in the dumps and I haven't felt that at all. We've just got to focus in and have one goal of getting a win this week."
-C Eric Wood
Stat of the Week
-EJ Manuel has won his past two road starts completing almost 72 percent of his passes for 366 yards with five total touchdowns (3 pass, 2 rush) and a 98.6 rating.
Milestones in reach
-Fred Jackson needs one touchdown to tie Joe Cribbs for seventh in team history.
-Leodis McKelvin needs one punt return for a touchdown to set a new team record with four in a career.
-Mario Williams needs 1.5 sacks to reach 80 for his career.
The Bills are number one in the league in average drive start (28.9 yard line) and number one in the league in opponent average drive start (21.8 yard line).