QB – Neither QB in this game is an elite QB. Matt Schaub has a chance to be if he can stay healthy. However that is something that seemingly doesn’t happen. He will have to be for the Texans to make a Super Bowl run. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a good QB. He put up big numbers the first half of last year, but then he fell off. He will need to revert back to that first half form for the Bills to have a chance.
RB – Houston has the best running back tandem in the NFL. Arian Foster is a top 5 back in this league, Ben Tate only ran for 954 yards last year as a backup and had a 5.4 ypc and Justin Forsett was also a starting running back in this league. Foster can do it all. The Bills have a pretty good core of running backs themselves. If Fred Jackson can come back from his injury last year, he get’s paired up with C.J. Spiller who is a big play waiting to happen every time he touches the ball.
WR – Neither team has a great WR core. Both teams have great #1 WR’s but not a lot to speak of beyond that. Andre Johnson is one of the best in the game. He is a dominant WR and has been for years. However much like Schaub he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for an entire season lately. Buffalo has Steve Johnson who has developed into a really good WR. Both teams are hoping that one of their younger WR’s comes on and shows something for them this year.
TE – Scott Chandler is a good TE and a really good red zone target but he doesn’t have the impact all over the field that he needs to. Owen Daniels has been a good TE in this league for a while now. He can make an impact all over the field and is one of Schaubs favorite weapons.
OL – The Texans had one of the best offensive lines in the league last year, however they let two of them walk as free agents this year. Duane Brown is one of the best LTs in the league. However that right side of the line is new this year and we will have to see how they play. Buffalo’s offensive line isn’t a great one however. Eric Wood has been hurt the last few years. Andy Levitre is a good guard and rookie Cordy Glenn has all the makings of a good one too.
On the offensive side of the ball I have to give the Texans the nod in 4 of the 5 positions. The only one I didn’t was the WR position and I called it a draw. Andre Johnson is better than Steve Johnson but he is always playing hurt.
DL – As far as the D-line goes I think Buffalo may have the best one in the league since acquiring Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in the offseason to play along Kyle Williams and second year talent Marcell Dareus. Houston’s D-line aren’t any slouches in their own right. J.J. Watt was every bit as impressive as a rookie as Dareus was. Houstons strength is more in their LB’ers than their D-Line however.
LB – Houston has one of the best LB units in the league. Brooks Reed was fantastic as a rookie last year and Connor Barwin showed a great ability to get to the QB. Brian Cushing in the middle is a great player and Bradie James is a veteran who has played for a long time. Buffalo has a pretty good core of LB in it’s own right. Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison have been good players for a long time. Kelvin Sheppard is a second year player who has a good rookie year.
Front 7 Overall – Both have absolutely great units. But by a very small margin I’d have to give it to Buffalo. Their D-line should be so dominating that is will slow down QB’s and RB’s alike.
DB – Johnathan Joseph is one of the better CB’s in the league. He has the speed and coverage skills to cover all types of WR. Kareem Jackson was disappointing as a rookie but looked better last year. Their Safety situation isn’t the best however. Danieal Manning is a decent safety, but Glover Quin is a below average FS. Buffalo has some pretty good safeties. George Wilson and Jairus Byrd together make a good pair of Safeties. The Bills don’t have any outstanding CB’s like Houston does. Stephon Gilmore is talented but just a rookie, Aaron Williams is a decent CB and Terrence McGee is getting a little older.
On defense I have each team winning 1 (Buffalo D-line and Houston LB) and then I have DB’s as a draw. Neither team has an outstanding unit back there. Houston has the better overall CB, but Buffalo has more depth. If you use the front 7 overall then Buffalo wins that and they still draw on the DB’s.
KR/PR – I have to give this one to Houston. Trindon Holliday will be one of the best return men in the NFL.
Now as far as predicting the actual game. I don’t think this game will be as close as the first round games. I don’t think Houston absolutely blows them out, but I do think they win fairly easily. Their offense is so much better than Buffalo’s to me. Foster and Tate will get their yards and Andre Johnson and Schaub will get a big play or two. Also Houston’s defense is as good or better than Buffalo’s. I have Houston winning 24-14.