Broncos vs. Texans: Streaming Info and Game Preview
The Denver Broncos host the Houston Texans as they commence their second half of the season in hopes of turning a 3-5 season around.
Sages throughout the years have proclaimed that the only constant in life is change. This is also true for the Denver Broncos. Tuesday, venerated and skilled receiver Demaryius Thomas was traded to the Houston Texans.
Incidentally, that is who the 3-5 Broncos are playing this Sunday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
All of you know about Thomas and the emotions run high. I will not speak of him any longer seeing as others have. With that said, may it suffice that he is a Broncos legend and he will always be revered in Broncos Country.
Anyway, I did watch the Broncos-Chiefs film all the way through the other night. After the 5:12 mark of the 3rd Quarter, when Kansas City took a 30-14 lead, the Broncos shut them out from there.
As has often been the case this season, it was the ineptness of QB Case Keenum in turning the ball over twice that stymied the Broncos Sunday.
I will say it would serve Keenum well (184 of 288 [63.9 completion percentage], 2,110 yards, 10 TD’s/10 INT’s) to go at least one game without an interception or a turnover of any kind against Houston.
The first thing Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said in Monday’s presser was that to beat the Texans, the Broncos “need to play a clean game.” Joseph also cited the Broncos’ penalties (10 for 83 yards at Kansas City) as the impetus of their futility. The film confirms this so I know he spoke the truth.
Our illustrious colleague Graham Tiedtke explores what went wrong at Kansas City Sunday in hopes that these problems can be rectified.
At 3-5, I will say that the Broncos’ schedule is more propitious than it has been. Gone are the two mandatory games against the Chiefs, as well as a game against arguably the best team in football, the 8-0 Los Angeles Rams.
What awaits next is Sunday’s game against the red-hot Houston Texans, winners of five straight. Other tough games remain against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers twice, and the Cincinnati Bengals.
With the exception of the road game at Los Angeles November 18 and the road tilt at Cincinnati December 2, the majority of the more challenging games are at home.
While the Broncos are only 2-2 at 5,280 feet this season, please remember two of those games were against the Rams and Chiefs. The Rams and Chiefs are a combined 15-1 for those scoring at home.
Furthermore, the Broncos only lost the three games to the Rams and Chiefs by an aggregate 14 points. The meaning of my parable is, if the Broncos can compete against the NFL’s elite, they can hang with anyone.
This is true, despite a season rife with ownership drama and a litany of other distractions. The pessimists have reared their ugly heads but a chance still exists for the Broncos to turn their fortunes around. However, the changes must start Sunday. There is no more proverbial “grace period.” It would not be surprise me if Joseph loses his job Sunday with a loss.
Outside linebacker Su’a Cravens is also slated to play. Our blog boss Sayre Bedinger has news on him. Also, receiver River Cracraft has been called up from the practice squad with the release of Isaiah McKenzie. Sayre Bedinger has more information.
I know a lot about River Cracraft having watched the late Pac-12 games on ESPN for years. He was great in Washington State head coach Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” offense and he should comparably excel for the Broncos.
There is a reason they’ve kept him around when they could have easily let him get away. His skill set reminds me a lot of Wes Welker.
The Texans come in offensively as a really mediocre team across the board. Their highest ranking offensively is in rushing offense as they are 11th with 123 yards per game.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson completes 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,176 yards, 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
With the Texans’ film I have seen this season, Watson seems reckless in some of his decisions, belying his remarkable talent. Nevertheless, as was seen in the 42-23 win over the Miami Dolphins October 25, Watson can turn it on as he had five touchdown passes on only 16 completions.
His favorite target, DeAndre Hopkins, (53 rec, 789 yards, 6 TD’s) is third in the NFL in receiving yardage and Thomas was traded for because Will Fuller (32 rec, 503 yards, 4 TD’s) tore his ACL in the win over Miami.
Houston’s leading rusher is Lamar Miller (113 car, 504 yards, 2 TD’s) who is 10th in the NFL in rushing yards.
Defense is where the Texans really shine as they are top 10 defensively in total yards per game (9th, 334.9 yards), yards per play (5.1 yards, 4th), points per game (20.9, 9th), net rushing yards allowed (95.1, 7th) and fumble recoveries (7, tied for 2nd).
The Texans’ leading defender is star defensive end J.J. Watt (8 sacks) while outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (4.5 sacks) has also been a stalwart. Otherwise, Houston doesn’t really have any significant standouts defensively, but they collectively play excellent defense.
Houston is also +3 in turnover margin, making them 10th in the NFL in that statistic.
The Broncos’ offense should have chances to excel against the Houston defense because it is only 40.8 percent (21st in the NFL) in third down conversion percentage and is 28th in the red zone.
In short, the Broncos need sustained drives to flip the statistics in their favor. This goes along with Joseph’s mandate that the Broncos must play clean football Sunday.
The Broncos’ offense continues to be better so long as the run is a focal point. As our injury report will tell us, rookie tailback Royce Freeman (330 scrimmage yards, four total touchdowns) is questionable for Sunday.
If he cannot play, it will give fellow rookie tailback Phillip Lindsay (667 scrimmage yards, four total touchdowns) and third-year tailback Devontae Booker (a season-best 101 scrimmage yards at Kansas City in Week 8) more opportunities to excel.
The Broncos need to stick with the run Sunday because if they do, it gives Keenum more of a chance to excel at play-action, which has always been his strong point as this Player Profiler report confirms.
With Thomas having been traded, Emmanuel Sanders (50 rec, 660 yards, 3 TD’s) ranks 11th in the NFL in receiving yards and has 707 scrimmage yards on the season, will only see his star rise.
The same is true for receiver Courtland Sutton who is already averaging 19.8 yards per catch, the third-best in the NFL. He only has 17 receptions but that number should obviously skyrocket moving forward.
Defensively, with Watson having proven to be error-prone, the Broncos may make him pay as the defense is tied for 11th in the NFL with eight interceptions.
Where the defense really shines, however, is in sacks as the 24 they have amassed are second in the NFL.
Star linebacker Von Miller is tied with Watt of the Texans for 2nd in the NFL in eight sacks. Additionally, reigning AFC Defensive rookie of the month, outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, is tied for eighth with seven sacks. Our colleague, Tylor Walden, has more information on Chubb’s prestigious honor.
Anyway, to me the key to the game is the Broncos’ top 10 rushing offense against the Texans’ top 10 rushing defense.
If Denver wins this battle in the trenches, they should find a way to win the game and snap the Texans’ 5-game winning streak in the process.
The Broncos lead the Texans 4-2 all-time, including a 3-1 mark at home in the series.
Date: Sunday Nov.4, 2018
Start Time: 2:05 pm MT.
Location: Broncos Stadium at Mile High
TV Info: CBS (506sports.com for local listings nationwide)
Announcers: Tom McCarthy (play-by-play), Steve Beurelein (analyst)
The Texans’ PR team was gracious enough to tweet out this week’s injury report.
Once again, in regard to Freeman, stay tuned.
Star meteorologist Marty Coniglio of 9News in Denver has a meticulous gameday forecast that he was kind enough to share with us.
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