One team is entering this game with a defensive lineman that is terrorizing the league. The other comes in with a defensive lineman whose play is being questioned by the league. As Mario Williams prepares to make his return to the city that he called home for six years, the man that has Houston forgetting about "Super Mario", J.J. Watt is preparing to dismantle a Buffalo Bills offense that is the 4th worst passing team in the league. The problem that Buffalo will run into the most, however, is the Houston Texans third ranked rush defense. That brings us to our first storyline to look for today.
#1. Can either Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller make it past the front seven of the Texans?
Having held Reggie Bush, Maurice Jones-Drew, Willis McGahee and Ray Rice to under 100 yards, as well as not allowing a single rushing touchdown all season, the Texans run defense looks like it may very well be the reason they can make a deeper run into the playoffs this season, regardless of what happens with Matt Schaub. This week could prove to be the ultimate test for this unit, because combined Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are averaging over 150 yards on the ground, per game. Keep an eye on this matchup, since if the Texans go up big early, the Bills may have to abandon the running agme.
#2. Can the Buffalo Bills stop Arian Foster's touchdown streak?
The Bills defense is the worst in the NFL at defending the run. This should have probably been expected by Bills fans, since the major addition in the off-season was a pass-rusher in Mario Williams. The biggest problem for Buffalo this week though, is the daunting task of having to not only stop Arian Foster, but if, and when, that is accomplished, backup Ben Tate can come in, and pick up right where Foster left off. Foster is going on 11 straight games with at least one touchdown, either rushing or receiving, including last year's playoffs (9 excluding playoffs). The Bills have allowed 13 rushing touchdowns this season. While there are no promises being made that Foster will score, the probability remains extremely high.
#3. Will the APB put out on Mario Williams finally be answered?
When you're a former number one overall draft pick, you're going to have a lot of expectations. When you live up to those expectations, and arguably exceed them, you're going to end up with a huge contract. When you end up with a huge contract, you're expectations are going to be even loftier. When those expectations are even loftier, and you're joining a new team, you had better be prepared to face criticism for not meeting them. When you face criticsm for not meeting those expectations, you'd better make a statement when you play your former team. Mario Williams, you're playing your former team. Sorry for the DIRECTV rip-off, but a little Sunday morning humor never hurt anyone.
Prediction - Houston 34, Buffalo 10
Anyone that thinks the Bills are going to be able to match the high-powered Texans offense, here's hoping your season tickets aren't going to jump in price too much at Ralph Wilson Stadium next season. If you're looking for a moral victory today, perhaps once 4:00 rolls around, you'll be able to dig through the archives and find game tape from 2006, the last time the Bills played in Houston.