Texans vs. Broncos week 9
Last meeting (Week 7: October 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. Broncos def. Texans 27-9.)
The Texans will head to Colorado in hopes of extending their current winning streak to 6 games before their bye week. They’ll be facing a rather desperate Denver Broncos team that is slowly but surely dropping out of the race for the AFC West. The stakes will be high for both teams on Sunday, as we are approaching the finish line before playoff season.
Knowing the Enemy
Denver Broncos (3-5, 3rd in the AFC West)
Strengths: Pass rush (tied for 2nd in the NFL), rushing (7th in the NFL).
Weaknesses: Passing (20th in the NFL), rush defense (27th in the NFL).
Recent game: Loss to Kansas City 23-30.
How do the Texans Matchup?
From a talent standpoint, both the Texans and Broncos are about even. However, the Texans will be given the slight edge because of one reason, THE QB.
For the second week in a row, the Texans will be facing off against another of their former starting QB’s in Case Keenum. Though Keenum should perform better against the Texans than Brock Osweiler, I believe it is safe to say that Deshaun Watson is a better QB than Keenum.
Besides the QB, both the Texans and Broncos roster are mirror images of each other. Both teams want to be physical in the run game in order to set up the play action for big plays. Each team has their own pass rush trio, with the Texans having J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Jadeveon Clowney, and the Broncos with Von Miller, Shane Ray, and Bradley Chubb. Though the Texans have a better record, both teams aren’t that different from each other as far as style goes.
Just like I do every week, I believe that this game can go either two ways. Starting with numero uno.
Scenario 1: The Broncos beat up the Texans and stop their 5 game win streak.
Injuries always happen in the NFL. It’s both natural and inevitable. Every team has them, and the Texans are definitely not an exception to the rule.
The Texans are expected to go into this game without their best Cornerback in Johnathan Joseph, their fastest WR in Will Fuller, and their best slot WR in Keke Coutee. While trading for Demaryius Thomas was a great move, everyone knows the value that Will Fuller brings to this Texans team. His speed absolutely scared defenses, opening up the rest of the field for the other players to roam. There is nobody on the Texans roster that can replicate what Will Fuller does for this team.
Because of this, the Broncos defense may not have to worry about covering the entire field today. I expect the Broncos game plan will be to not worry about being beat deep and to focus only on short and intermediate routes. If the Texans can’t challenge the Broncos deep, then things can be a big disaster today.
This is a game of strengths vs weakness. The Broncos strength is their pass rush, while the Texans weakness is the offensive line. The pass rush may be ferocious today. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb should be licking their chops as they prepare to face the worst offensive line statistically in the NFL. If the pass rush destroys Deshaun Watson like how the Bills did a few weeks back, expect the Texans five game win streak to come to an end.
Scenario 2: The Texans punch the Broncos in the mouth
I spoke earlier about how the Broncos having a major strength over the Texans with their pass rush. However, the Texans have a major strength over the Broncos as well. That will be their run game vs the Broncos run defense.
The Broncos have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Texans have to take advantage of that if they don’t want Watson to leave the game in a body bag. I expect the Texans game plan to be similar to the Jaguars game. They should be in a singleback, two TE formation for most of the game and be run heavy. The Texans must limit that pass rush as much as possible.
If the Texans are able to run the ball down the Broncos throat, then they should be able to dominate them all game long. They will cruise control their way to a 6 game win streak.
This week is a tough one to call. Just like every other week, it all depends on how the offensive line performs. The Broncos aren’t the Bills, however. If the Texans offensive line stinks it up versus the Broncos, the Broncos will win. If not, the Texans will cruise control to a win. Since the offensive line has performed well these past two games, I have faith that they will do the same this game. I am picking the Texans to go into the bye with a 6-3 record.
FINAL SCORE: Texans 24 Broncos 14