The game between the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans is dripping with story lines and is one of the marquee match ups of week three. The primary story is the fact that this is a game featuring two teams who believe they should be there at the end if some questions are answered.
For the Broncos, the question really hasn’t changed much and might be more of a question after last week. That question, of course, is about Peyton Manning. There are those who think Monday night versus the Atlanta Falcons was a sign that something is really wrong, and that will continue all season. There are others who believe that the game versus the Falcons was just a bad game and will point to the fact that Manning rebounded and had the Broncos one possession away from possibly winning the football game. The definitive statements on Manning two weeks into the season are premature, the guess here is that Manning will rebound nicely and play well versus the Texans.
For the Broncos to move the ball on Sunday, expect to see a short passing game that focuses on timing routes and getting the ball to the tight ends and running backs. Two guys to keep an eye on include; Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme. There were guys open underneath on Monday night that Manning did not see, he will see them on Sunday. Sunday is also a game where fans can expect to see a lot of the no huddle offense as a way to slow down the Texans pass rush, and aggressiveness. Texas defensive lineman, JJ Watt might be the best defensive player in football right now, and the Broncos have to find a way to slow him down. The no huddle might be the best way to accomplish that, if the Broncos can run a lot of plays and keep the Texans defense on the field then the Broncos have a chance to do some damage on offense. A fun match up for fans to watch when the Broncos have the ball will be Demaryius Thomas vs. Texans cornerback, Johnathan Joseph.
The Broncos defense will have their hands full on Sunday with a Texans offense that is very balanced. They love to run the ball with Arian Foster and Ben Tate, and that will be the game plan versus the Broncos. Regardless of what others think of Manning, the Texans want to keep him off of the field. The Broncos have done a great job stopping the run in the first two weeks of the season, but this will be a huge test. If the Broncos are going to win the football game, then they are going to have to stop the run and force the Texans to throw. The interior of the defensive line for the Broncos including; Kevin Vickerson, Justin Bannan and Derek Wolfe have to be huge against the run.
The Texans, if forced to throw, can do that very well too. Quarterback, Matt Schaub is not often mentioned among the elite in the NFL but he is very good at what the Texans want to do. He is an excellent play-action passer and loves to get the ball to star receiver, Andre Johnson. Champ Bailey of the Broncos will be matched up with Johnson and that will be another intriguing battle for fans to watch. As good as Bailey is, the Broncos must get their pass rush going this week. Elvis Dumervil has to show up and be the player that everyone expects him to be. Not only has he not had a sack in the first two weeks, he hasn’t done much of anything. Von Miller is off to a great start but he needs help, and that must come from Dumervil. In short, if the Broncos are going to slow down the Texans then they have to stop the run and then get to Schaub with the pass rush. That will be easier said than done, the Texans are a very good football team.
This is a great match up of two teams who expect to be playing in January, and could have tiebreaker implications down the line. The game will be close throughout but I’ll take the Broncos for two reasons. The first reason is that Manning hears everything and he’s been listening all week to people question him, and his arm strength. Manning loves to prove people wrong and will have a big chip on his shoulder on Sunday afternoon. The second reason is simply the fact that the Broncos are at home. With that said, make my prediction 24-21 Broncos on a late Matt Prater field goal.