The Houston Texans finally take the field Sunday against the Buffalo Bills with both teams coming off their bye weeks. Now that the rest and recuperation is over with, let’s back to football and this week’s key matchup.
One of the areas in which the Texans undoubtedly spent significant time improving the last two weeks was the continuity along the offensive line. Nobody would call their performance to date poor, but compared to last season’s unit that was arguably tops in the league, this version of the Texans O-line has certainly gone through its struggles. The OL has had its moments, pass protecting very well while being solid but unspectacular, in the run game.
In their last game two weeks ago against the Baltimore Ravens, fans saw a slight change in offensive philosophy. The Texans used more drop back passing and less of the typical zone-blocking run game and play-action passing combination. The offense clearly adjusted to the current strengths of the OL to much success, scoring a franchise record 43 points in the victory. However, that is not the Texans game plan, not the bread and butter they pride themselves on offensively. The bye week was surely used to work on improving the O-line in zone-blocking and play-action pass protection.
Across the ball, the Texans will be going up against former Texan Mario Williams and the league’s worst run stopping defense. Sunday’s contest almost serves as another bye week for the Texans OL because they’ll have a chance to further work their tool against what has become the worst D-line in football.
I’ve chosen this as the week’s key matchup not so much because it will determine the outcome of the game, but more so the progress of the rebuilt O-line. The Texans front five are going to outplay the Bills defensive front and baring some unlikely scenarios, the Texans should easily take care of business at home. The more telling aspect of this matchup is how badly the Texans O-line dominates the Bills. This will positively or negatively impact the team moving into their toughest stretch of the season with four of the following five games on the road against mostly quality opponents.
The last part to this matchup of course is shutting down Mario Williams. It’s not essential to stop Super Mario in order to win the game, but from a Texans fan’s perspective, we all want to see our former first round pick to get swallowed up and dominated from start to finish. His exit from Houston, following his parting shots aimed at the organization and the fan base, should give the Texans a little extra fire in the belly to really do a number on him. He gave us six injury-plagued seasons that showed flashes of hall of famer at times, and undrafted bum at other times. In the end, the Texans made the right move letting him go, and the O-line needs to drive that point home Sunday afternoon.
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