Playoff game No. 9 in Houston Texans history will kick off at 3:35 p.m. CT in NRG Stadium. On the other sideline will be an opponent the Texans faced last season but one that they've not faced in any of the eight previous playoff games - the Buffalo Bills. Here are some nuggets to chew on for this matchup.
DeAndre Hopkins was named First-Team All-Pro alongside Saints star Michael Thomas. It's the third consecutive season in which Hopkins was named First-Team All-Pro and the fourth time he earned first or second team honors. He earned second team honors in 2015. Those four All-Pro seasons tie Andre Johnson for the most in offensive team history. J.J. Watt holds the defensive mark with seven honors
If Will Fuller V AND J.J. Watt play in this game, it'll be just the 18th time those two have played in the same game for the Texans. That's 18 games... in a total of 68 played over the past four years. That's how few times this dynamic offensive/defensive duo has been out on the field together.
When Hopkins, Fuller and Deshaun Watson have played together, the Texans have averaged over 264.6 yards per game through the air. In the three years they've all been in Houston, they've played together 20 times. One of those times was against the Bills last season and the Bills held the Texans to 122 yards BELOW that average.
The only times in those 20 Hopkins/Watson/Fuller V games that the Texans threw for fewer than 200 yards all occurred here at NRG Stadium - 2018 vs. Buffalo, 2019 vs. Jacksonville and 2019 vs. Carolina.
The Bills won nine of their first 12 games, but lost three of their last four. Outside of two wins over Miami, they only scored 28+ points once and that was in a September win over the Giants. Furthermore, they've not scored more than 17 points dating back to Thanksgiving.
That said, the Bills defense allowed more than 24 points just once all season - a 31-13 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles at home in October. Since that loss to Philly, the Bills haven't allowed more than 24, which they gave up in losses to Baltimore and New England.
The Bills will start just one offensive player in this game that started in their 2017 playoff game against Jacksonville - left tackle Dion Dawkins. In fact, the Bills only have three offensive starters that started last year vs. Houston - Dawkins, quarterback Josh Allen and fullback Patrick DiMarco. Then again, the Texans have just four offensive starters from last year (five if Fuller V plays/starts) that project to start on Saturday.
Texans rookies Max Scharping, Lonnie Johnson Jr., Charles Omenihu and Cullen Gillaspia will be playing in their first playoff game, but they're not alone. Gareon Conley, Vernon Hargreaves III, Carlos Hyde, Rod Johnson and Eddie Vanderdoes are others embarking on the playoffs for the first time.
Both quarterbacks for the Houston Texans have started in the playoffs - Deshaun Watson last year vs. the Colts, while A.J. McCarron started for the Bengals in the 2015 Wild Card game vs. Pittsburgh. Neither quarterback on the Buffalo depth chart has played in a playoff game - Josh Allen and Matt Barkley.
Texans Swiss army knife Taiwan Jones has only played in one playoff game in his career and it was against the Texans in 2016 as a member of the Oakland Raiders. His second career playoff game will be as a member of the Houston Texans against one of his former teams - the Buffalo Bills.
Alright, that'll do it for today as it's time to hone in on Saturday and the playoffs. See ya on Saturday, everyone!