Willis McGahee during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE)

Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans: Game Preview

The Houston Texans make the trip to take on the Denver Broncos in week three. The Texans have never won three games in a row to kick off the season in franchise history. The Broncos and the Texans have only played each other three times in franchise history with the last game being played in on Dec. 26, 2010 in which the Broncos won 24-23. The Broncos hold a 2-1 advantage over the Texans all time. The Texans come in after beating the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars in weeks one and two, respectively. For those of you attending the game, former wide receiver Rod Smith will be inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame at halftime. Game time is set for 2:25 p.m. MST on CBS.

Offense

Broncos: Do the Broncos come out no-huddle or do they establish the run game? The past two games haven’t really determined what kind of offense the Broncos have here. The questions surrounding Peyton Manning’s arm strength need to stop. His three interceptions last week were more a product of poor decision making than of strength, or lack thereof. The Texans have allowed just one scoring touchdown all season, and they’ve forced five turnovers so all of that rust from the offense needs to be shaken before Sunday afternoon. What the Broncos do with the run game should be interesting. Do they finally utilize the fastest back on the team in Ronnie Hillman to back up Willis McGahee or do they stick Knowshon Moreno and shaky hands out there more? Either way, the Broncos need to control the pace of this game.

Texans: The Texans are the 6th best rushing team in the league. Because of Arian Foster and Ben Tate, they’ve owned the clock the first two weeks, even managing to hold onto the ball for 44 minutes, 17 seconds against the Jaguars. Quarterback Matt Schaub has thrown just one touchdown pass all season while Foster and Tate have combined for 5 touchdowns on the year. Don’t forget about Andre Johnson, however. The Texans are capable of luring the Broncos to sleep with the run game only to throw to Johnson, who averaged 93.5 receiving yards per game in 2010. The Texans are putting up 28.5 points per game.

Defense

Broncos: The Broncos need to set the edge on the line because the Texans are great perimeter runners. The Broncos defense has been great against the run thus far, holding the Pittsburgh Steelers to 74 yards on the ground and limiting Michael Turner to just 2.5 yards per carry in Atlanta. The defense has been good, but not play-making great. Elvis Dumervil has yet to record a sack this year, and the team has just one interception. Making Schaub throw the ball to get quick three and outs will be in the Broncos game plan. The Broncos are allowing 23.0 points per game, and they’re 7th against the rush and 9th against the pass.

Texans: The Texans have the best defense in the NFL. They’re allowing just 8.5 points per game, and they’re 8th against the rush and 1st against the pass. They’re led by J.J. Watt who was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week last week with 1.5 sacks, three QB pressures, and a forced fumble. Brian Cushing is leading the team in tackles with 18 and he has an interceptions and a forced fumble. Let’s see how the high altitude effects this defense so early in the season when conditioning could still be an issue.

Special Teams

Broncos: Punter Britton Colquitt is proving his weight in gold. He gave the Broncos a chance to win last week by making the Falcons work a full field.

Texans: In week one, Houston gave up a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown to Marcus Thigpen, and they gave up 25.8 yards per return on six kickoffs. Kicker Shayne Graham is 5-for-6 on field goals for the year. His lone miss came on a kick from beyond 50 yards.

Coaching

Broncos: Hopefully this is a calmer game for John Fox who got so heated at the replacement referees in Atlanta that he would have been ejected if it were a basketball game. Fox will get the Broncos back on track.

Texans: The Texans have eight coaches who either played for and/or coached the Broncos including Gary Kubiak, Rick Dennison, and Wade Phillips. This is a game where the coaching staff knows how difficult it is to win in Denver, and they know all about how to play in the altitude.

Prediction: Broncos – 28 Texans- 24. 

For those of you attending the game, make sure to park your car at Atmosphere (1630 Federal Blvd.). When you mention Predominantly Orange to the parking lot attendant, he will take $10 off the $50 price to park your car, plus give you a free drink coupon good for before or after the game. It’s just a 3-minute walk to the stadium from there, and getting out after the game is over is easy as pie.

Enjoy the game!

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