Coming off a bye-week the Houston Texans (6-1) are hosting the 3-4 Buffalo Bills. Houston is a fairly heavy favourite in their home encounter. The Bills have been a disappointment this year. Their record actually flatters a team that has been absolutely destroyed in three out of four losses and only had one win, over the even more lowly Kansas City Chiefs, which could be considered dominating.
The Texans’ defence will face its biggest aerial challenge from the passing tandem of quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receiver, Stevie Johnson. Johnson leads the team in receptions, yards and is tied for most receiving touchdowns. In the red zone, also look for the Bills’ tight end, Scott Chandler, who is quietly on track to have his best season by a long margin. Chandler is emerging as one of the Bills’ better players, he is third in receptions and yards, and it will be up to the Texans’ linebacking core to stop him.
The only AFC teams currently above .500 will be playing each other in week 7. After their emphatic defeat to the Green Bay Packers, the Houston Texans (5-1) will be looking to bounce back with a victory against the Baltimore Ravens (5-1).
The Ravens came through a close game against the Dallas Cowboys last week. For the first time in their history, the Ravens have well and truly been led by their offense. Last week, it was able to overcome the 29 points surrendered by a defence that is long past its prime and beset by injuries.
Linebacker, Ray Lewis along with cornerback Ladarius Webb were lost for the season on a unit that has only managed to come 26th in total defence so far this year. It ranks a slightly more respectable 17th, according to Football Outsider’s advanced statistics, but is clearly struggling to put up the sort of dominant performances it used to.
The Houston Texans are without a doubt a franchise on the rise. From their inception in 2000, leading up to last season which saw Houston make their first playoff appearance in franchise history, there are plenty of reasons to argue that Houston is on the verge of becoming one of the NFL's elite. But after Sunday night's primetime 42-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers, a game in which Houston looked heavily overmatched, the faith of many believers has been shaken. At the beginning of the season, many critics had Houston representing the AFC in the Super Bowl; have we overrated the Houston Texans?
2011 was a great year for the Houston Texans. With the addition of defenseive coordinator Wade Phillips and Wisconsin pass rusher extrordinaire J.J. Watt, Houston's improved defensive unit finished 2nd in the league in total defense, and finished 2nd in the league in rushing yards per game. 2012 got off to a great start as well as Houston opened up the season on a five-game win streak before their Sunday Night Football loss, but looking back, have yet to beat a team with a winning record.
Houston Texans: With Brian Cushing Out For Season Should Texans Also Bench Connor Barwin For Whitney Mercilus?
Most of the time when a franchise drafts a player in the first round they are either drafted for need in that position or as the best available player. Most teams' first-round picks are either starting or being rotated in for a significant amount of snaps.
The Texans have become more balanced and have proven to have solid depth in talent by drafting under the strategy of the "best player available." Their latest first-round pick, Whitney Mercilus, a defensive end from Illinois is an outside linebacker in Wade Philips 3-4 scheme, in the same vein as Mario Williams's role in the defense.
However, Mercilus is currently second on the depth chart to Connor Barwin who remains sackless for the season and is in a contract year. The thought process is that Barwin will be given all the snaps of opportunity to earn himself a extension, therefore most fans do not know too much about their first round pick Mercilus other than seeing him contribute on special teams and leading the team in the preseason with three and a half sacks.
Green Bay Packers vs. Houston Texans: HOU -3
When I saw this game on the schedule before the season I didn't want anything to do with it. The primary reason is because I predicted the Packers would meet the Texans in the Super Bowl. At the same time, I also expected Green Bay to be better at this point in the season.
In the offseason, Vegas had Green Bay favored -1.5 in this game. The look-ahead line from last week shifted all the way to the Texans side, leaving them -5 favorites. Yet, after the Texans failed to cover the spread vs the Jets, money has come pouring in on the Packers. The current line sits between -3 and -3.5, which gives us the option to take the Texans at the key number of three (odds from SBRforum).
Would the Real Packers Defense Please Stand Up?
If you've followed Green Bay all year, you'll know how frustrating it's been to get a handle on their defense. Most people (myself included) expected an improvement on that side of the ball after getting everyone back healthy and adding Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy in the draft.