The Buffalo Bills host the Houston Texans this week in a game that most are predicting should go well for the home team. The games are played on the field and not in a simulator, however, so the Bills won’t be counting any chickens before their eggs hatch.
A loss to Houston would certainly put a damper on some good early season vibes, as the Bills bounced back from a disappointing opening week loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers by absolutely pancaking the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Football Team in consecutive weeks.
Without Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, the Texans looked like a different team last week than the one that beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and hung close with the Cleveland Browns. Here are the players we’ll be watching this week as the Texans try to take down the Bills.
QB Davis Mills
The rookie made his first career start last week, and it wasn’t pretty. He averaged just six yards per attempts, totaling 168 yards on 28 throws. He was sacked four times and he took 14 hits. Against a Buffalo defense that’s currently fourth in points against, fourth in total yards against, and fifth in passing yards against, it isn’t going to be any easier. Expect the Bills to treat Mills like they did Tua Tagovailoa in Week 2 by sending plenty of pressure from different locations and different looks. Defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier is one of the best around, and he and head coach Sean McDermott have to like the matchup of their defense against a rookie making his second career start and his first career road start. Mills is going to have to bow his neck and play the game of his life on Sunday.
WR Brandin Cooks
Mills threw 28 passes last week. Eleven of those passes went to Cooks. He completed 19 passes last week. Nine of those completions went to Cooks. He threw for 168 yards last week, and wouldn’t you know it, but 112 of those yards went to Brandin Cooks. That means that Davis Mills was 9-of-11 for 112 yards when throwing to Brandin Cooks, and 10-of-17 for 56 yards and a touchdown when throwing to people not named Brandin Cooks. Something tells me that Tre’Davious White will shadow Brandin Cooks this weekend just like he did against Terry McLaurin last week.
EDGE Whitney Mercilus
Mercilus has burned the Bills before, though that was back in the day when the Texans also had J.J. Watt to defend. Mercilus has two sacks so far this season, and he’s definitely among Houston’s more talented players on the roster. Both Daryl Williams and Dion Dawkins have had some struggles at different times this year and, admittedly, most of those struggles came against T.J. Watt in the opener versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Williams was more good than bad against Chase Young last week, but he was beaten from time to time. Mercilus might find some lanes into the backfield, and Buffalo will have to make sure that doesn’t happen.
CB Vernon Hargreaves III
The top dog in Houston’s secondary has three pass breakups and an interception thus far in the young season, but he’s definitely beatable. Hargreaves has allowed nearly 71 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed this year, as opposing wideouts have 12 catches for 171 yards when he was the closest defender. Whether he’s matched up against Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, or Gabriel Davis on the outside, Josh Allen shouldn’t be afraid to throw it in his direction.
KR/PR Andre Roberts
Chances are good that Tyler Bass won’t give Roberts many opportunities to make the Bills regret letting him walk this offseason, but we’ve watched enough of Roberts to know two things: He will try to make something out of nothing after a while because the man loves to make plays, and even when it looks like he can’t succeed, he will do just that. Punter Matt Haack needs to use that directional prowess of his to keep Roberts from swinging this game and giving Houston any feelings of hope. Keeping Roberts penned up will allow the Bills’ defense to go to work.