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Even though this matchup was set almost two weeks ago, the AFC wildcard matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans might end up being the best matchup in the opening weekend of the NFL Playoffs. Besides having two of the best young quarterbacks in the league going head to head, it could be the two defenses that could be the difference in who moves on in the playoffs.
Keys To The Game:
Houston won the AFC South in 2019 and possesses MVP candidate Deshaun Watson at quarterback. He finished the season with 3,852 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes. Watson also added seven touchdown runs on the season. Those seven touchdowns led the Texans on the season. His ability to mix up the run and the pass could throw off the Bills’ secondary.
His ability to get the ball to star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will be key but getting players like Kenny Stills, Duke Johnson and Will Fuller involved is even more important.
Buffalo has Josh Allen as their quarterback and his 2019 season was just as remarkable as the Texans’ signal caller. Allen threw for over 3,000 yards with 20 touchdowns in the air and ran for 510 yards and nine touchdowns.
Like his counterpart, Allen’s feet will keep the Texans honest and not focused on runningbacks Devin Singletary and Frank Gore. The Bills will use Allen in different ways in an attempt to control the clock and keep the explosive Texans’ offense off the field.
With Hopkins potentially being shadowed by Buffalo Pro Bowl cornerback TreDavious White, having a healthy Will Fuller will help Watson have the ability to beat the secondary over the top. Fuller has the ability to have a huge game on Saturday. When he gets 100 or more yards in a game in his career, the Texans are 5-3.
His hamstring will be the real X-factor in the teams playoff game on Saturday. If his hamstring cooperates, then Houston has a very good chance to advance to the Divisional round of the playoffs.
After his breakout performance in Week 5’s victory over the Tennessee Titans, Jordan Phillips was inserted in the starting lineup in Week 9 and has played at a Pro Bowl level. He’s recorded multiple tackles in each of his starts and has at least a half of a sack in seven games this season.
Besides leading the Bills in sacks this season (9.5), he has 16 quarterback pressures and 13 tackles for loss. His job on Saturday is to keep the pressure on Watson and to provide the pass rush from the inside to allow Shaq Lawson and Jerry Hughes their chances to makes plays on the outside.
Watson plays much better at home and his numbers prove it. His quarterback rating is 10 points higher and he has an almost 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio when games are played in Houston. Buffalo should make a few plays to keep it close but Houston advances 27-17.