When and where: December 8, 2019, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX, 1:00 PM ET
The Denver Broncos will head into NRG Stadium on Sunday hell-bent on complicating the AFC South picture for the Houston Texans. A win for the Broncos would put the Texans neck-and-neck with the Tennessee Titans for the division crown. The Broncos recently ruined any long-shot hope the Los Angeles Chargers had of sneaking into the backdoor of the playoffs, while the Texans are coming off a much-needed marquee home win over the New England Patriots.
Broncos are still dangerousIt would be unwise to get caught sleeping on the Broncos nearing the end of the season. Look at what they did to Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers. They effectively ended whatever hope the team had left of sneaking into the backdoor of the playoffs.
The Texans would do well to take notes considering they are locked in a tight race with the Tennessee Titans for the divisional throne.
Say what you want about rookie quarterback Drew Lock and the Broncos offense, but the defense remains a top-10 unit in points allowed. Even if it isn’t always pretty, opposing teams are having a hard time punching the ball into the end zone against the Broncos defense. They’re also the fifth-ranked passing defense in the league. So Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is going to have a tough outing for a second consecutive week.
Lock is fresh off his first regular season game in the NFL, and there is hope he’ll settle down more in the offense on Sunday. The Broncos could certainly help him along in that process by leaning on the combined rushing efforts of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman against a Texans defense allowing an average of 111.1 rushing yards per game.
Freeman (ribs) has been limited at practice and is officially listed as questionable for the game. Safety Will Parks (hand) is on that list as well after missing practice this week. Von Miller is also back on the practice field after missing the game against the Chargers.
Watson finally beats BradyDeshaun Watson is happy knowing he at least beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots once before the greatest dynasty in sports history came crashing to a halt. He played a tremendous game when faced with a defense that has made more quarterbacks than Sam Darnold see ghosts. The most impressive stat of the game for the Texans was no turnovers. If they can continue to play mistake-free football, they’ll be a tough out for any opponent.
Speaking of tough, Watson will have a difficult time throwing into the teeth of a stingy Broncos’ secondary. The Texans need to establish balance with Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde in the run game if they have any hope of cracking the defensive code of the Broncos. Watson’s ability to use his legs is a big reason why the Texans are the seventh-ranked rushing offense in football. He’s always a threat to take off from the pocket and turn broken offensive plays into long gains.
That’s the sort of demoralizing effort the Texans need from him against the Broncos. The defense had a tremendous game against the Patriots’ struggling offense until the end of the game. If not for a failed onside kick recovery, Brady might have completed an epic comeback to steal the game. The Texans’ defensive front has to be stout against the run, but more importantly, they have to get home and force Lock into bad throws.
The supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Broncos are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Broncos are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games on field turf.
- Broncos are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as a road underdog of 3.5-10.0.
- Broncos are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as a road underdog.
- Texans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a home favorite of 10.5 or greater.
- Texans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0.
- Texans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a home favorite of 3.5-10.0.
- Texans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games on field turf.