The Denver Broncos have headed home from the Georgia Dome to the friendly confines of Sports Authority Field at Mile High after a MNF loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Up next on their treacherous first half schedule is one of many peoples favorites to make a run at the Super Bowl this year, the Houston Texans. Beating the Texans will be one of the toughest tasks of the season for this Broncos squad as it seems to be going through some growing pains in the early Peyton Manning era.
The Texans come into Denver with the NFL‘s top ranked defense while being first against the pass and eight against the run. That may not bode well for the Broncos, but looks can be deceiving. Do not forget that Houston played the Miami Dolphins in week 1 and the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 2. Say what you want, but any team considered a Super Bowl contender SHOULD have the league’s best defense after playing these two teams. Denver’s offensive line will be more solid than the Texans have seen so far and that means that Willis McGahee will be able to exploit the holes and gain about 85 or more yards and be effective. The Broncos will also showcase rookie Ronnie Hillman for the first time an he will add a nice dimension as long as he can pick up the blitz.
The Broncos also have better WRs and TEs than the Dolphins or Jaguars, so we will see just how good that secondary is with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker extending plays with runs after the catch. The key here is that Manning seemed more comfortable at home in week 1 and the o-line had a better semblance and order about them when they could hear the audibles and commands being shouted. This will be a viable threat to Houston as Manning will show that he is no Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Tannehill.
On the defensive side of the ball, does anyone expect the Texans to run all over the Broncos as they have in the two previous weeks? If the trend continues, then the Broncos should limit Arian Foster and Ben Tate to average numbers. I expect these two talented backs however, to fully utilize their strengths and find the holes and exploit them. The Broncos defense went up against an average at best Pittsburgh Steelers run game and Michael Turner of the Falcons who had other things on his mind on Monday night. The Houston run game will open up for Matt Schaub to complete enough passes to keep the chains moving against the Broncos bend but don’t break defense.
This issue for the Broncos is if they can shore up their tackling and finish an INT opportunity against a sometimes erratic Schaub. The defense also needs to be able to pressure Schaub and bring him down in order to rattle him and that is when the picks will happen. Does the vaunted pass rush of Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller and rookie Derek Wolfe show up against a stout offensive line for Houston? They better, because if you allow Schaub to sit in the pocket and track down Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels all game, this will be a long afternoon.
This will be another close game for the Broncos who I believe may begin to turn the corner on getting it all together to make a run. Yet the football gods have not been pleased with the Broncos as evidenced by their wicked first half schedule. The level of physical play that they are enduring through this stretch is just plain wicked and it will take its toll on Sunday. BroncosRants predicts a 30-27 Houston win, but another step in the right direction for the orange and blue.
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