Week 3 of the NFL season matches up the Houston Texans against the Denver Broncos. The Texans are coming off a year in which they won the AFC South and went to the playoffs. Contributing to their title in the division was the injury to Peyton Manning. Without Manning the Indianapolis Colts fell into disarray and had a horrible season that resulted in having the first pick of the draft. The Colts decided to part ways with Manning and head coach Jim Caldwell and begin the Andrew Luck and Chuck Pagano era.
After leaving the Colts, Manning decided to continue his career with the Broncos. By joining the Broncos Manning became part of a team with a decent running game, talent young receivers and a up and coming defense. This is a team that is much more ready to make a playoff run than the Colts at this stage.
During his career Manning has been incredibly successful against the Texans. His career stat line against the Texans is a win loss record of 16-2 with a completion percentage of 67%. He has thrown for 5,122 yards and has thrown 42 touchdowns and has been intercepted 9 times. These are amazing stats to have against one team and shows that the Texans have struggled against this quarterback. However, things look different coming into this game.
First, this is not the same defense that Manning has gone up against in the past. In previous year the Texans has been among the worst defenses in the league statistically. With the hire of defensive co-ordinator Wade Phillips the Houston Texans defense has been completed rebuilt. In 2011, a year that Manning missed so he did not face this defense, the Texans finished #4 in scoring defense and #2 in yards. This is coming off a 2010 season where the Texans were #29 in scoring and #30 in scoring. This is a much stronger defense that will be better prepared to combat Manning.
Second, this is not the same Manning that has plagued the Texans over the years. Manning is in transition phase as he adapts to a new team. He is not as comfortable with with this group of teammates and coaches. He does not have the long standing familiarity that allows him to know exactly where his fellow players will be on any given play. He is also hampered by the residual effects of his neck injury and subsequent surgeries. Manning is not at the same level physically after his injury and the fact that he is 36 years old leads to diminished skill level. If last week against the Atlanta Falcons is an idication of how the game against the Texans will go Manning is in for a long afternoon.
Joe Serenka, Houston Texans Blogger, follow him on twitter @Texansblogster