Cleat Geeks

Buffalo Bills Blitz: Week 6

If you’ve been a Bills fan for even a fraction of the amount of time I’ve been (going on 30 years now), then you’re used to disappointment. So when anything good happens, it’s house money because you figured it wouldn’t happen. That’s pretty much the sentiment about the week 5 win over the Tennessee Titans.

The Titans weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but at 3-1 they were proving to be a tough team. The Bills didn’t exactly repeat their week 3 performance against the Titans, but the defense was solid yet again and they managed to come out on the better end of a field goal battle. At 2-3, the Bills are exceeding expectations, especially after the complete and utter train wrecks that their three losses have been.

So heading into a week 6 visit to Houston to face the Texans, I wouldn’t say there is optimism, exactly, but the world isn’t on fire anymore. At least not fully engulfed, anyway. I do feel like I need to reiterate something (as I have several times this season): STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT JOSH ALLEN. He is a rookie. This offense is absolutely pathetic, especially now that LeSean McCoy seems to be a shell of himself from a production standpoint. They have no actual receivers. The line might get him literally killed before the season is over. He’s doing fine all things considered and HE’S A ROOKIE. Just stop.

The Texans, meanwhile, are showing signs of life. After dropping their first three games, they’ve managed back-to-back overtime wins and the offense looks like it’s starting to show positive growth on all that potential we thought they had at the beginning of the season. They aren’t the contenders everyone expected, but they aren’t dead like we all thought after week 3, either.

What can Allen do against this defense?

Here’s the thing: the Texans defense isn’t a world-beater like many of us thought they’d be. They have a ton of talent, sure, but they’re surrendering more points per game (24.8) than the Bills defense (23.6) that got shredded by the Ravens and Chargers to the tune of 88 points. But with Jadaveon Clowney and J.J. Watt on the defensive line, they always have the ability to get to opposing quarterbacks and we all know the state of this offensive line.

Allen will have to have his head on a swivel on Sunday, because there will be pressure. But how much of it can he avoid and if he extends those plays, can he find open receivers? He’s shown a penchant for zipping passes into tight windows, but he’s also a rookie working on his accuracy. There will be missed opportunities. But Allen has shown the ability to find the deep ball and to make plays with his feet, not to mention he isn’t exactly lacking confidence.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, center, takes the field with teammates to workout prior to an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

If Allen can stretch the field vertically, he might have a chance to develop a groove underneath. But he has to stay upright.

Which Deshaun Watson will show up?

Watson and the Texans as a whole struggled to start the season, but since the calendar changed to October, Watson and the offense have come alive. Watson sits 7th in the NFL in yards with 1,621 and is in the top 15 in passer rating at 94.6. He presents match up difficulties because of his ability to extend plays and create plays with his feet. He also has a pair of quality receivers, with DeAndre Hopkins being a superstar and Will Fuller V appearing to be a breakout performer.

On the ground, Lamar Miller has been okay this season, averaging 3.9 yards per carry, but it’s obvious the strength of the Texans offense is their passing attack. The Bills defense has come alive in recent weeks and have shown the ability to not only get to the quarterback, but to create turnovers. If they can get into Watson’s face and fluster him, making him get rid of the ball quicker than he’d like, they have a chance to stifle a streaky offense.

Can the Bills establish a run game?

Through five weeks, the answer is a resounding “no”. McCoy leads the team with 170 yards on a 3.8 yard average. Considering the kind of production we’re used to

seeing out of him in years past, this is a shocking stat. The running game simply hasn’t been there, aside from brief flashes where Josh Allen breaks out a scramble and ends up hurdling fools. This is a huge reason the passing game has been a struggle and why Allen seems so streaky (aside from the aforementioned reason that he’s a rookie).

The Texans are a top-10 outfit against the run this season, allowing 95 yards per game on the ground. This means trouble for the Bills. They’ve not been able to get off the ground against anyone this year, though they’ve played a pair of top-10 outfits in Baltimore (5th) and the Chargers (10th) as well as the Vikings (13th) and Packers (15th). Simply put: the ground game has been bad, but part of that can be attributed to facing stellar run defenses.

That won’t change this week against the Texans and that will mean a lot of trouble if the Bills can’t get some production out of their backs.

So what’s the damage?

I’m almost tempted to predict a loss in every game for two reasons: 1.) the Bills are not good and 2.) they have defied me twice already with wins against the Vikings and Titans. I don’t think the reverse jinx will work much more often because this team is as one-dimensional as it gets and that will cost them a lot of games.

On the other side of the coin, no one is sure if the Texans are actually good. They have talent. They have a strong defense. But they’ve struggled to put it together through 5 weeks, though their last couple of outings have looked far better than the beginning of the season.

Prediction: Texans 20, Bills 9

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