What to watch for: Bills-Texans

Photo credit Photo: Tim Warner - Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans will open the 2019 NFL postseason with the first game of the 2020 calendar year on Saturday at NRG Stadium.

Here are three keys to the contest:


  • Run, Buffalo, Run!

The Texans defense has been bad this year against the run, but particularly the last two months. Since their bye in Week 10, over their final seven games, the Texans have allowed an average of 168.6 yards rushing and a whopping 5.36 yards per-carry. They've faced some very good running teams (Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans twice, Indianapolis Colts), but those are huge numbers no matter who the opponent is. On the season, Houston has the 25th-ranked rush defense per-game (121.1) and 27th per-play (4.81). The Bills are eighth in the NFL running the football, averaging 128.4 yards per-game, and rookie Devin Singletary had the highest average years per-carry in the league for any running back with at least 150 carries at 5.13. The Texans have also given up 15 runs of 20 yards or more and four runs of 40 yards or more, both tied for third most in the NFL. The Bills will have opportunities in the running game and need to take advantage of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if both Singletary and Frank Gore are used on Saturday to keep fresh legs pounding on the Texans defense.


  • New Kid on the Block 

Josh Allen has played on some big stages over the last couple months, including winning a Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys and a Sunday Night Football contest over the Pittsburgh Steelers. There was also the loss to the New England Patriots in Foxboro a couple of Saturdays ago on national TV. However, this will be the biggest game of his football life. Win or go home. On the road. Loud crowd. National television. It's his first-ever playoff start and that's going to bring an entirely different challenge. It’s all right there, and how the Bills' second-year quarterback handles it as not only a passer, but as a leader will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.


  • Nothing over the top

Since head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier arrived in Buffalo three seasons ago, the Bills have been great at not allowing the big play on defense. This season, they allowed only four pass plays of 40-plus yards, fewest in the NFL, and were tied with the 49ers for the fewest 20-plus yard pass plays given up with 34. The Texans had 10 pass plays go for 40-yards or more this year. Deshaun Watson is great at extending plays and also giving his weapons chances on deep balls. He and the Texans offense can change a game by making one or two of those. The Bills defense has to make sure it keeps locking it down as it has been all season.



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