Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9:
Mario homecoming: The Houston Texans will meet a familiar face when Mario Williams returns Sunday as a member of the Buffalo Bills. Williams was the No. 1 overall pick of Houston in 2006. He had a productive career in Houston, but the Texans refused to pay huge bucks to keep him. The Bills paid $100 million to bring Williams to Buffalo, but he has been a disappointment so far. Williams should be motivated to play against his former team. This weekend could jump-start his 2012 season.
Bills' defense vs. Foster: The Texans are a brutal matchup for the Bills for several reasons. But perhaps the biggest mismatch is Houston’s running game, led by tailback Arian Foster, against Buffalo’s run defense. The Bills are ranked last against the run and allow a league-worst 6.0 yards per carry. Foster is one of the NFL’s top running backs and has rushed for 659 yards and nine touchdowns this season. The Texans will test the Bills to see if they fixed their run defense during the bye.
Running Dolphins: Speaking of ground attacks, the Miami Dolphins haven’t run the ball up to expectations the past couple of games. But Sunday’s contest against the Indianapolis Colts may provide that opportunity. Indianapolis is 27th against the run this season. The front seven is the weakest part of the Colts’ defense, and running the ball is an opportunity for Miami to avoid getting into a shootout on the road.
Gaffney's growth: The Dolphins are hoping for continued growth from receiver Jabar Gaffney. He was signed last month but didn’t get on the field until last week against the New York Jets. Gaffney caught one pass for 30 yards, which is a decent start. Gaffney also had one drop. Miami needs increased production from the veteran receiver to help take pressure off starters Brian Hartline and Davone Bess.
Healthy returns: The New England Patriots and Jets are both on the bye week and nursing injuries. For the Patriots, Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker (ankle), tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle), guard Logan Mankins (calf) and cornerback Kyle Arrington (head) are some of the players recovering during the bye week. For New York, center Nick Mangold (ankle), linebacker Bart Scott (toe) and running backs Bilal Powell (shoulder) and Joe McKnight (ankle) are all looking to get healthy.