By Tim Graham
HOUSTON -- The Buffalo Bills are in a bad spot. The last-minute loss to the Tennessee Titans sent the Bills into their bye week with a 3-4 record, last place in the AFC East.
Now, with the New England Patriots still showing their kingly presence and the Miami Dolphins surging, the Bills are in for a fight in the division. Now the Bills have a pair of rugged road challenges in consecutive weeks. The Bills get the AFC-leading Houston Texans this afternoon and the Patriots next week in Foxborough, Mass.
Here is a digest of items about today's game in Houston ...
Weather report: There has been rain in the area, but no worries. Reliant Stadium has a retractable roof. It will be closed.
Matchup to watch: Bills defensive end Mario Williams is returning to Houston for the first time. He is coming off surgery on a left wrist that has been nagging him all season and will put his $100 million contract up against Texans right tackle Derek Newton, a 2011 seventh-round draft choice with seven career starts.
Something to consider: Houston has not allowed a rushing touchdown or a 20-yard run. The Bills have given up 13 rushing touchdowns and 12 runs of 20-plus yards.
Fast fact: C.J. Spiller is Buffalo's all-time leader in rushing average and it's not even close. He's at 5.4 yards a carry, ahead of O.J. Simpson at 4.8 yards and Fred Jackson at 4.6 yards.
Red-zone woes: In his weekly scouting report, Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski notes the Bills rank dead last in touchdowns allowed in the red zone. Opponents have gotten there 25 times and scored 19 touchdowns, a 76 percent success rate.
Don't forget about "[BN] the Huddle" tonight: Check out BuffaloNews.com's live webcast at 7:30 p.m. hosted by Skurski and Lauren Mariacher. The postgame recap will include reports from Ralph Wilson Stadium and analysis from One News Plaza staffers such as executive sports editor Lisa Wilson and reporters Milt Northrop and Keith McShea.
Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan, columnist Jerry Sullivan and I will file dispatches from the Reliant Stadium press box, and photographer James P. McCoy will be on the sidelines.
Today's game will be televised by CBS and shown in Western New York on WIVB Channel 4. Buffalo News columnist Greg Connors wrote a piece for this morning's paper on the announcers: Ian Eagle and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts.
Did you know? With nine games to go, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt needs just half a sack to become the 11th player (since sacks became an official stat in 1982) to record 10 sacks with 10 passes defensed in a season.
Bills all-time games versus Texans: Travis Henry rushed for 159 yards in 2002. J.P. Losman threw for 340 yards, finding Lee Evans for a series-high 265 of them in 2006.