Denver, CO. Monday night at Atlanta, there was plenty that all Denver Broncos fans could take from the tough road loss. Although the team, and more notably Peyton Manning, made many critical errors in the first quarter, they still kept it close in the second half and even down to the last few minutes. They didn’t play great, they looked a little off in some areas, but still only lost by 6 to a very good Falcons team in their building. The Broncos weren’t going to go 16-0, so this loss was not shocking to any educated NFL fan. The schedule for this Denver squad is a meat grinder, especially early on, as they now come home to face a Houston team that has dominated its first two opponents with ease. Facing the Broncos will be a definite upgrade in quality of opposition for the Texans, as they have beaten Miami and Jacksonville so far. Houston is still a very under the radar team to a certain extent, as they rarely get the publicity like various counterparts do throughout the AFC. One thing is for sure though, this team from south Texas is outstanding. When healthy, like they are now, they are a difficult matchup for anyone. They have a dominating running game, an above average passing game, and one of the best defenses the league has to offer. With this being said, here are the 7 reasons why the Houston Texans will send the Denver Broncos to their second consecutive loss in week 3……
1 – Broncos Short Week - Losing on the east coast late Monday night, and then having to fly back over two time zones can do a little bit of a number on the internal clock of NFL players. It has been known to cause problems for the traveling team the following week, as many times that team looks a little lackluster during the next game. Don’t be surprised if Denver isn’t very sharp this Sunday.
2 – Texans Running Game - It may be the best in the business, and it’s not only Arian Foster. Ben Tate can come in and do some damage as well, and he has the talent to be a starter in the NFL. They run a very similar zone blocking scheme that the Broncos have for years, and this duo can pound the ball all day on the ground with authority. Denver has mot faced anything like this in their first two games against Pittsburgh and Atlanta.
3 – Healthy Matt Schaub - At the end of last year, the Texans went into the playoffs having to go with youngster T.J. Yates under center. Schaub had a foot injury, and Houston still beat Cincinnati in the wildcard round. Now that Matt is healthy, this offense can pass if needed, and Andre Johnson is one of the best to toss it to. Schaub makes this offense go, and is one of the more underrated QB’s in football.
4 – Houston’s Defense - Simply put, they are a top 5 defense. They have studs at D-Line, linebacker, and in the secondary. J.J. Watt is on the verge of becoming a perennial Pro Bowler, and Brian Cushing brings an immense amount of toughness. The loss of Mario Williams hasn’t seemed to hurt at all.
5 – Peyton still isn’t Peyton - I am still not sure what I saw in the first quarter against Atlanta, but it wasn’t good. And it didn’t look like the #18 of old. He was staring down his receivers, and most times he was slingin a wounded quail. Is Manning still good? Sure he is, but the days of him winning almost primarily by himself seems to be over. It would be naive to not be a tad worried that this is as good as he will ever get in a Broncos uniform.
6 – Gary Kubiak - Kubiak has been in Houston as their head coach for quite a while now, but how can he not remember his Denver days? He was a Bronco for an eternity, both as a player and an assistant coach. Will he want to win maybe just a little more than normal this Sunday, coming back to his old stomping grounds? I think so.
7 – Texans Will Make Denver One Dimensional - Houston is good enough in their front four defensively to stop the run with just the defensive linemen. The Broncos running attack has been just ok through two games, and hasn’t shown the ability to be something that Peyton can lean on for long stretches at a time. This is a perfect recipe for Houston to drop linebackers into coverage, and cause a few more interceptions from Manning. This game will come down to the 4th quarter, but the Texans will do just enough to get a tough road win. Houston 26, Denver 20.