Top 3 Individual Matchups
1- Chris Hairston vs. J.J. Watt –With starter Erik Pears a question mark for Sunday, it's likely that Hairston draws the assignment against the prime candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. Watt is uncommonly athletic and powerful for 6'5" 295-pound end.
2 – Kyle Williams vs. Chris Myers –Myers and Williams are two of the more consistent linemen down in and down out in the league. Both are also good anticipators, which should make for a good chess match inside Sunday.
3 – Stevie Johnson vs. Johnathan Joseph –Buffalo's top wideout appears to be back on track after posting 11 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown in his past two outings. He'll go against a pretty good man cover corner in Joseph.
Top 2 Bills Advantages
Good advantage – Red zone offense –Buffalo ranks seventh in the league in red zone touchdown percentage punching it over the goal line better than 61 percent of the time (61.1%). Houston's defense is only middle of the pack in red zone touchdown percentage allowed. They give up a touchdown one out of every two times an opponent crosses their 20-yard line.
Best advantage - Punt return –Leodis McKelvin still leads the league in punt return average (24.0), but he'll need a hand from Buffalo's defense to get the Houston offense off the field for return opportunities.
Bills Number 1 Must
Third down conversions –The Bills are coming off their best third down conversion game since the opener in their one-point loss to Tennessee. Against the Titans the Bills were 7-12 on third down (58.3%). Houston is stingy on third down as they allow just a 27.5 percent conversion rate to opposing offenses, good for second best in the league. Buffalo has to be around a 45 percent success rate to have a chance in this one.
Clock controlThe Texans' success on the ground is well documented. Arian Foster, who already has 659 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns is a big reason why Houston is able to control the clock and win time of possession. In fact the Texans lead the league in time of possession average by a wide margin. Houston holds onto the ball for better than 35 minutes per game (35:23). Only one other NFL club has a time of possession average of better than 33 minutes (Pitt. 34:35).
O-line shuffleThe Bills have had to do their share of offensive line shuffling due to injury. The Texans however, shuffle the right side of their line as a platoon situation. The starters at right guard and right tackle are rookie Ben Jones and second-year player Derek Newton. Houston then rotates in veterans Antoine Caldwell and Ryan Harris. Newton has 404 snaps to Harris' 122, while Caldwell has only recently taken a back seat to Jones. Jones made his first start in Week 7 against Baltimore, which is why he has 237 snaps to Caldwell's 275.
Forsett for TateIt sounds like Ben Tate's ailing hamstring will keep him out of Sunday's game against Buffalo. That means third-string back Justin Forsett will assume backup duties to Foster. Forsett is a more compact runner, but hits the hole hard and can run with power. He has just 23 carries on the season, but is averaging 5.2 per carry.
Ball dropThe Texans are known as a run-first team that makes use of play action to get their passing game going. Houston averages a respectable 230 yards through the air per game, but they should probably be averaging even more. That's because dropped passes have been an issue at times. Through their first seven games, Houston averages 10.7 drops per game on catchable passes. Only Cleveland (11.8) and Jacksonville (12.5) average more.
Barwin-Reed combo sputteringPass rushers and outside linebackers Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed were monsters in Houston's defense last season. The two combined for 18 sacks and 24 quarterback hits in 2011. Through the first seven games this season they're well off that pace. The two have just 3.5 sacks between them and just six quarterback hits.
Winning bigThe Texans have made quick work of most of their opponents this season as they've sprinted out to a 6-1 start. Houston has the fourth-best margin of victory so far this year. They're winning by an average of better than 17 points (17.67). Only San Francisco (20), New England (19.2) and Denver (18.5) have wider average margins of victory. Four of Houston's six wins have been by 20 points or more.
Quote of the Week"There has to be urgency there. So that definitely needs to be there, but the good teams have it there every week, not just some. I think our practices have been good. We have to move those over into the game, play faster and play with more confidence. And that starts this week."
--DT Kyle Williams
Stat of the WeekRyan Fitzpatrick is the third-highest rated quarterback in blitz situations with a rating of 118.9. Only Robert Griffin III (133.3) and Aaron Rodgers (121.6).
Milestones in reachRyan Fitzpatrick needs 311 passing yards to become the fifth quarterback in franchise history to reach 10,000 in a career.
Fred Jackson needs nine rushing yards to join Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson and Thurman Thomas as well as Joe Cribbs as the only Bills to reach 4,000 rushing yards in a career.
Stevie Johnson with a touchdown will move into a tie for ninth on the team's all-time receiving touchdown list with his next scoring grab (Frank Lewis – 24)
Final noteThe Bills are 2-0 against the Texans in Houston.