Gridiron Gab Week Nine Preview – Buffalo at Houston

It’s back to work for the Houston Texas, the current favorite in many fans eyes to win the AFC. They come off the bye Sunday to take on the Buffalo Bills, a team that is having problems stopping anyone from scoring as of late.

Houston is 6-1, and they are rushing the ball as well as anyone with Arian Foster, they have an NFL-leading 35.4 rushing attempts per game, and they average 140.9 yards to rank sixth in the league. Houston, however, has managed just 4.0 yards per carry – a number coach Gary Kubiak is hoping to see rise.

A more efficient effort from Foster vs the Bills could go a long way. The 2010 rushing champion is averaging a league-high 24.0 carries but ranks 28th with 3.9 yards per attempt.

“You try to look at the big picture and say our yards per carry is still not good enough,” Kubiak said. “We need some more big plays … we’ve got to find (Foster) some more space and some big plays. If we do that, all that takes a couple big plays and your average goes up.”

A matchup against the Bills (3-4) could help the Texans do just that. Buffalo is surrendering an NFL-high 176.9 rushing yards per game and expects to see a heavy dose of Foster come Sunday.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re going to come out and try to establish the run,” defensive end Chris Kelsay said. “Running backs look at playing us as an opportunity. It’s our job as a defense to nip that in the bud right now. And that’s our focus.”

The Bills, though, have reason for optimism with offseason pickup and former Texans first overall pick Mario Williams feeling an increased range of motion in his sprained left wrist.

The two-time Pro Bowler had been playing through the injury initially suffered during the final week of the preseason but opted for surgery after being assured he wouldn’t miss any time.

Selected No. 1 overall in the 2006 draft by the Texans, Williams – the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player – spent the first six years of his career in Houston before signing a six-year, $100 million contract with Buffalo this offseason.

“Oh, I’m definitely, definitely (playing). I’m not missing anything,” he said. “It uplifts me tremendously. … I’m definitely excited. This is a great week.

Despite their poor efforts, the Bills are hoping to hold their own Sunday. Buffalo is 2-0 all-time in Houston, most recently winning 24-21 on Nov. 19, 2006.

“I’m very confident in what we can do,” linebacker Nick Barnett said. “If we go down there and play with focus and determination and the will that we should, I think we should be able to stop (Foster) the way nobody’s stopped him this year.”

Foster ran for 98 yards and scored his league-leading eighth and ninth rushing TDs during a 43-13 rout of Baltimore in Week 7. He may need to shoulder even more of the load Sunday with backup Ben Tate (hamstring) uncertain to play.

This is all Texans, and even with the return of Williams for the Bills, they don’t have the firepower with Ryan Fitzpatrick to match up with the tough Houston D.

Look for the Texans to get to 7-1 with ease.

Houston 31 Buffalo 17



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