Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
When: 4:35 PM ET, Saturday, January 4, 2020
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
HOUSTON – The Houston Texans have won the AFC South title in four of the last five seasons, a good track record to be certain but one that also comes with just one playoff victory. The fourth-seeded Texans bid to double that total on Saturday when they host the fifth-seeded Buffalo Bills in a wild-card game at NRG Stadium.
Houston wrapped up the AFC South title with a Week 16 victory in Tampa Bay, allowing coach Bill O’Brien to rest quarterback Deshaun Watson and wideout DeAndre Hopkins during the team’s regular-season finale against Tennessee.
“Once we were getting closer to the beginning of the game, it was pretty obvious that our seeding wasn’t going to change,” O’Brien said. “So we decided to do those things in the best interest of the team.”
The Bills basically followed suit in their season finale against the New York Jets, with physical quarterback Josh Allen receiving an early exit to rest up as the team bids to win its first playoff game since 1995. Allen didn’t fare well in his previous encounter with the Texans in 2018, as he was limited to just 84 passing yards in a 20-13 setback in Houston.
TIME: 4:35 p.m. ET. TV: ESPN. LINE: Texans -2.5. O/U: 43.5
ABOUT THE BILLS (10-6): Buffalo has slowly leaned on Devin Singletary in the backfield, and the rookie has paid dividends with a robust 5.1 yards per carry that ranks fifth best in the NFL. John Brown led the team with 72 receptions and 1,060 yards while his six touchdown catches were tied with Cole Beasley. The Bills’ bread and butter resides on the other side of the ball, as its stingy defense ranked second in the regular season in scoring (16.2 points allowed per game) and third in total yardage allowed (298.2). Pro Bowl cornerback Tre’Davious White, who shared the NFL lead with six interceptions, will draw the assignment of guarding Hopkins.
ABOUT THE TEXANS (10-6): The wild card in this wild-card showdown is just how much playing time J.J. Watt will receive in his return from a torn pectoral muscle that sidelined him eight games. “I think we have a good plan,” the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year said on Wednesday. “I think we have a good plan for how we’re going to utilize the game and how we’re going to go throughout the game.” Wideout Will Fuller V also returned to practice this week after injuring his groin in Week 16, and his possible addition has traditionally been a boon for Watson and Houston. The Texans own an 8-3 record and have averaged 26.3 points in games in which Fuller has played this season, as opposed to a 2-3 mark with a 19.6 point average in contests that he has missed.
- Buffalo tied a franchise record with six wins on the road this season.
- Watson didn’t fare well in his last meeting with the Bills, as he was sacked seven times, threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
- Buffalo DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring), who was limited in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, has recorded 6.5 sacks this season.
PREDICTION: Texans 20, Bills 13