Houston Texans Aim to Extend Season in Wild Card Weekend Game vs. Bills

The Houston Texans will face the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Tex. This will be the first time the teams have met in the postseason, but in the regular season, Houston has the all-time lead at 5-4, winning the last four of five games.

This game marks head coach Bill O’Brien’s fourth postseason appearance as head coach, which improves upon his own franchise record.

The Texans won the AFC South division title for the second season in a row and the fourth time in the last five years, also winning 10 or more games for the fourth time in franchise history. Houston is favored to win this matchup with an almost 70 percent win probability.

The Texans enter the playoffs with 2,009 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns on the season, which is the sixth time in franchise history the team rushed for more than 2,000 yards. They recorded the fourth-most rush touchdowns in a single season. Houston ranked fifth in the AFC with 23.6 points per game and fifth with 362 yards per game. The driving force that is Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins along with Darren Fells and Duke Johnson have made for a strong offense all season, but the defense has been one of the worst, so the return of J.J. Watt couldn’t come at a better time for this Texans defense.

Regular Season Leaders

Houston comes into the Wild Card playoff series finishing their regular season at 10-6, losing to Tennessee in the final week of the 2019 regular season. They are 2-3 versus common opponents with the Bills.

Deshaun Watson posted 333 of 495 completed passes for 3,852 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions for a 98.0 rating for the season while Carlos Hyde led with 245 carries for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins posted 104 receptions for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns. Whitney Mercilus leads the Texans with seven-and-a-half sacks and Tashaun Gipson has the team-high three interceptions for the season. Ka’imi Fairbairn contributed 100 points on the season, kicking 40 of 45 extra points and 20 of 25 field goals.

Team Notables 

Watson posted 26 passing touchdowns and a career-high seven rushing touchdowns to give him a career-high total of 33 touchdowns. He joined Hall of Famer Steve Young as the only quarterbacks with 25 or more touchdowns passes and five or more rushing touchdowns in multiple seasons in the history of the league. Watson has recorded 18 touchdowns and a 103.3 rating in his last seven home games, and in his only career postseason game, he passed for 235 yards and rushed for 78 yards.

Hyde recorded his first career 1,000-yard rushing season in the last week of the regular season, becoming the fifth different player in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season, and in the last two of three games, Hyde has posted a rushing touchdown.

Duke Johnson posted 820 scrimmage yards in the 2019 season and is one of two running backs with 40 or more catches in the each of the last five seasons. Hopkins is tied for the lead in the AFC with 104 catches for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns this season and became the sixth players in NFL history with 800 or more receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons.

Will Fuller recorded career-highs in catches and receiving yards this season and Fells is ranked third among tight ends with a career-high seven receiving touchdowns in the regular season, recording a catching touchdown in two of three career postseason games.

As mentioned, Watt makes his comeback this season just in time for the postseason. In his six career postseason games, he has posted eight tackles for loss, five sacks, five pass deflections, and a pick-six. Mercilus also has six sacks in his six career postseason games and posted a career-high four forced fumbles along with holding the lead in sacks in the regular season.

The Houston defense has sorely missed Watt and will be pretty dependent on him, Mercilus and Gipson to stop the Bills’ offense from making it to the end zone. If the defensive line strengthens with the return of Watt and the offensive line keeps making their moves, the Texans should progress to the next level of postseason play and continue their 2019 season.

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