Denver Broncos at Houston Texans: a win needed to extend playoff reach

The Denver Broncos (11-3) will clinch the AFC West and a first-round bye in the playoffs if they beat the Houston Texans (2-12) and the Kansas City Chiefs also need to lose to the Colts. This Sunday the Texans will host the Broncos in their first early game (11am mtn) of the season. Denver also has the potential to gain home-field advantage with a Broncos win, Chiefs loss and a Patriots loss to the Ravens. It’s safe to say all Bronco fans will reveal themselves Sunday as being Colts and Ravens fans as well.

For lack of a better word the Houston Texans are a mess. They haven’t won since the second week of the season in which they beat the Tennessee Titans in overtime 30-24. Ben Tate, their leading running back is on injured reserve, they have ruled quarterback Case Keenum out and Matt Schaub will be starting Sunday. Arian Foster, Houston’s offensive backbone (no pun intended) decided in November to have a season-ending back surgery. Owen Daniels, another leading receiver is also on IR. The same game that Foster aggravated his back injury against the Colts, head coach Gary Kubiak suffered a transient ischemic attack in which he was out for a week and unfortunately the losing streak continued as December 6th they fired Kubiak with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips leading the position for the rest of the season.

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Eric Decker, Andre Caldwell and Montee Ball celebrating after a touchdown (Photo Credit: Denver Broncos)

One thing that the Texans do have going for them is their pass rush. They have the second best passing defense in the league, limiting opponents to only 183 yards per game. Judging by that statistic they clearly have good secondary coverage however they are just 25th in the league at rushing the quarterback with 30 sacks.

With Wes Welker ruled out for the game it will be interesting to see how the receiving options work out for Denver. It seems that as long as Peyton Manning has room to throw he will get the ball accurately to his receivers. If not then Knowshon Moreno should hopefully be able to take advantage of the Texan’s 24th ranked rushing defense.

Denver has just gotten off a shocking, 20-27 loss to the San Diego Chargers, exposing many weaknesses in their defense. Although Houston has offensive issues don’t expect the Broncos to hold back anything. On the contrary hopefully we will see the defensive improvement that they need going into the playoffs.

Denver Broncos 35 at Houston Texans 17