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Deep Steel Blueprint: Texans-Broncos In The Meaningless Bowl

Let's see what you got, Scorin' Dorin.
Let's see what you got, Scorin' Dorin.

Sunday's game between the Houston Texans (5-9) and Denver Broncos (3-11) is a bit hard to write about or preview. I mean, what's the point? Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention, the Broncos are in their third game under interim head coach Eric Studesville, Denver's starting a rookie quarterback for his second game, and Houston games always follow the same exact script.


While we're all fans of the Texans, what does it matter if they win or lose on Sunday against the Broncos? The only answer I can think of is that I wouldn't want the Texans to lose to a three-win team nor be the first career victory in the career of Tim Tebow, but those really don't matter in the long run.


I can't find a reason why writing a preview has any merit in a lost season, but, rest assured, I'll be watching on Sunday hoping that Andre Johnson and Arian Foster can go wild and get near their personal milestones in terms of statistics.


Let's jump to see three important match-ups on Sunday's post-Christmas match-up.

Match-Up #1: Opponent's offensive supporter Frank Bush vs. Broncos QB Tim Tebow

I figure that title is more appropriate for what Bush actually does because he's definitely not coordinating any defensive effort. On Sunday, the defensive disaster master will match wits with Josh McDaniels' young Chosen One.

With a rookie quarterback in his second start, it should be fairly easy to confuse him with pre-snap shifts and zone blitzes. Given the work Tebow needs to become a true pro quarterback, Bush probably wouldn't have to be too aggressive to confuse him. However, these are the Houston Texans, and Frank Bush doesn't do what works most of the time. If Bush stays in his cover-2 vanilla zone, it'll be a big day for Tebow and another embarrassing day for Houston.

Match-Up #2: Denver run defense vs. Texans RBs Arian Foster and Derrick Ward

The Broncos have the 31st-ranked run defense in the NFL. They allow 158.4 yards per game, 4.6 yards per carry, and a league-worst 22 rushing touchdowns. If you're into Football Outsiders DVOA, Denver has the 30th-ranked run defense with a +5.5% DVOA. With such a porous defense, Foster and Ward should be able to run at will.

Given Denver winter weather, it may not be a bad idea to just let Vonta Leach clear the path for the running backs. It's safe, it's effective, and it keeps the defense on the sidelines. Chew up the clock, dominate the red zone, and run to an easy win. Hopefully, Rick Dennison and Gary Kubiak will get the memo.

Match-Up #3: Texans WRs Jacoby Jones and Dorin Dickerson vs. Broncos CBs Perrish Cox and Nate Jones

Believe it or not, the Broncos have a worse pass defense DVOA (+41.3%) than the Texans (+40.2%). Unlike Houston, the Broncos' pass defense is that bad primarily due to slot wide receivers. Denver ranks dead last in defending non-starting receivers with a DVOA of +34.3%, which is 13% higher than their numbers against any other receiver-type. If the Texans pass, the match-up favors Jones and Dickerson.

Personally, I like that these two have such an easy match-up. If Kubiak and Matt Schaub use this part of the blueprint, the Texans front office should really get a sense of soon-to-be free agent Jones and young project Dickerson. The question of whether Houston should re-sign Jones has to be tied to how is Dickerson progressing. If either guy dominates or struggles against the league's worst non-starting receiver defense, it could go a long way in determining off-season strategy.

While the game may not matter standing wise, it does matter for 2011 and beyond for guys like Jacoby Jones. Those are my key match-ups for Sunday, but how about yours? Comment away, BRBers.

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