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Top 5 storylines to follow for Bills vs. Texans | Week 4

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (98), Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans, October 14, 2018 at NRG Stadium. Photo by: Juan DeLeon
Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (98), Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans, October 14, 2018 at NRG Stadium. Photo by: Juan DeLeon

The Bills (2-1) looked explosive in Week 3 against Washington with the offense lighting up the scoreboard and the defense creating turnovers. This week the Houston Texans (1-2) come to Orchard Park which marks the 10th regular-season matchup between the two franchises.

Here are some of the top storylines for Buffalo's third home game of the season.

1. Can the Bills offensive continue to sizzle?

There's been a saying among the players in the Bills locker room and that is to stack good days on good days and good weeks on good weeks. The Bills will carry that mindset into Week 4 as the team looks to earn its third straight win. 

Josh Allen had 300+ passing yards and four touchdown passes in Week 3, his fifth-career such game and first of the 2021 season. Allen joins Patrick Mahomes (9), Dan Marino (9), Andrew Luck (6) and Kurt Warner (6) as the only players with 5+ such games in their first four seasons in NFL history. With Allen playing at such a high level, it elevated the play of his teammates as the offense got into a good rhythm throughout the game. 

Sean McDermott was pleased by Allen's Week 3 performance as well as the offense as a whole. This week, McDermott wants to see the team build off their week three win and wants to see more consistency from the offensive side of the ball. 

"I thought he got off to a good start," McDermott said on Monday. "The third-down completion to Gabe [Davis] over the middle was a laser and from there he got into a really good rhythm, quite honestly. The offensive line, again, played a big part in that. I like how Josh took what the defense was giving him at times and other times he created on his own. I think there was a good balance. I thought coach Daboll did a good job of changing the looks to the defense and got him in a good rhythm, and then spreading the ball around to different targets is a healthy approach, as well."

2. Yet another coaching reunion for Sean McDermott

In consecutive weeks, Sean McDermott will be going against a head coach in which he has a storied history. Current Texans head coach David Culley was a part of Andy Reid's coaching staff in Philadelphia starting in 1999. McDermott started his NFL career in Philly as a scouting coordinator in 1999 before becoming an assistant to Reid in 2001. Culley and McDermott spent 11 years on Reid's staff together before McDermott left for Carolina and Culley joined Reid in Kansas City. Culley and McDermott reunited in Buffalo with McDermott bringing in Culley as the quarterbacks coach for the team from 2017-2018. 

Culley is a first-year head coach and has gained knowledge from multiple head coaches throughout his career. (Sam Wyche, Bill Cowher, Andy Reid, Sean McDermott, and John Harbaugh) McDermott has a lot of respect for Culley and the work he has put into this league for many years and is excited for the challenge of coaching against him this week. 

"David does a great job," McDermott said. "He's a true professional. He's been in this business a long time. He and I worked together in Philadelphia, where he was the receivers coach and did a great job there, so he knows offensive football. I'm sure he's off to a great start as a head coach, winning his first game down there a couple weeks ago. His team plays hard for him, which I have a lot of respect for that."

3. Bills defense will face another young quarterback in Week 4

After facing a quarterback in Taylor Heinicke last week who was made his first career road start in the NFL, this week the Bills will face Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills who will start in his second career game. In Week 3, the Panthers second-ranked scoring defense held Mills to 19-28 passing for 168 yards with one passing touchdown. This week, Mills will face the Bills fourth-ranked scoring defense as Buffalo looks to hold the opposing quarterback to under 250 passing yards for the fourth consecutive week. 

The Bills rank third in takeaways so far this season with six. (three interceptions, three forced fumbles) The Bills veteran defensive backfield have been known to disguise their coverages in different ways to confuse quarterbacks which have led to multiple turnovers. Mills didn't have a turnover in his first career start, but the mindset of the Bills defense this week will be to make Mills as uncomfortable as possible throughout the game for more opportunities for takeaways.

"This is the National Football League," Frazier said. "We don't determine who we're going to play against, but we're going to line up to do what we do and do it to the best of our abilities. People have a ton of tape on us and how we do things and they're going to adjust and try to figure out ways to defeat what we do, but we're going to continue to work to get better at what we do. Our goal every week is to affect the quarterback in different ways. And as I mentioned, our secondary does a great job in helping us do that. Whether it's a veteran quarterback or a young quarterback, that's one of our goals every week.

4. McDermott and Frazier have set high goals for the Bills defensive line

The Bills defensive line did a great job stopping the run in Week 3, holding Washington to only 78 total rushing yards. Star Lotulelei got the team's only sack in the game compared to the six the team had in Week 2 against Miami. The goal for this week is to continue to create pressure on the quarterback. 

Leslie Frazier is more confident than ever in this defensive line, and its ability to disrupt opposing quarterbacks even if the sack numbers aren't there every week.

"You have to be careful about getting caught up in the sack numbers, especially when a team is trying to get the ball out fast," Frazier said. "Finding ways to affect the quarterback, sometimes it's our secondary affecting them with their looks, to see disguises by our safeties, by our corners. We've had comments from opposing teams talking about how they could not figure out what we were doing coverage-wise because of the secondary, which buys our defensive line another second to affect the quarterback. … We all love to see multiple sack games, but if you can affect him and keep his percentage down and force takeaways, you have a pretty good day on defense."

Coach McDermott also thought that the defensive line did a tremendous job stopping the run and hopes that will continue as the season goes on. For McDermott, he still is looking for a more stable defensive front to provide constant pressure so the back end of the defense can continue to play at the high level they have been. 

"I thought at times our run defense was where it needed to be, but quite honestly, I felt like we could have played and affected the game more than we did up front," McDermott said. "So now I'm looking for consistency. We're looking for consistency. It's got to be every week, and that's got to start this week."

5. Dealing with the role of being a heavy favorite

Going into this season, a big talking point surrounding this team was if they could handle the shift from being the hunters to the hunted after making the AFC Championship Game in 2020. McDermott will make sure that this Bills team is motivated, humble and hungry before every week's game and that is especially true this week. has the Bills win probability at 93% for this weekend's game, the highest of the season. With a matchup against the Chiefs on deck in Week 5, the Bills will need to make sure to take care of business and finish the week 1-0 before the team can start thinking about the AFC Championship game rematch on the horizon.

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