These past two games have been the biggest games at NRG Stadium in quite some time. We saw how the last game turned out and we have to assume that another game will come down to the wire. It will come down to execution, but it will come down to which team uses it’s roster the best.
We usually start this feature looking at the top five guys from each squad according to PFF. Obviously, once we are 11 or 12 games in then the Houston Texans list is going to look similar from week to week, but since we haven’t seen the Broncos. Even the divisional opponents have been separated by enough time where the lists will look good. Guys with scored over 80 typically are Pro Bowl type players. Guys with scores over 70 are typically solid starters at their position.
Denver Broncos Top Five
G Quinn Meinerz— 83.6
CB Ja’Quan McMillan— 78.5
QB Russell Wilson— 77.7
OT Garrett Bolles— 75.3
WR Courland Sutton— 74.3
Football is a lot easier when the quarterback is one of the five best guys on the team. You could point your finger at a lot of people when you consider the Broncos improvement this season, but that list would have to start with Wilson. The counting numbers aren’t great, but in terms of touchdowns and interceptions, this has been his best season in nearly half a decade.
He has enough talent around him to be decent. He may not have as explosive an attack as the Texans, but they have a defense performing better overall than the Texans defense. A lot to the praise has to go to Sean Payton and his staff. They are doing it without a ton of top end talent and it shows with these scores.
Houston Texans Top Five
LB Blake Cashman— 89.9
WR Noah Brown— 87.7
QB C.J. Stroud— 86.3
WR Nico Collins— 85.7
WR Tank Dell— 83.7
Imagine having five Pro Bowl type players on the roster. Realistically, Brown isn’t an All-Pro player, but you can make credible arguments for four of these guys and probably Laremy Tunsil based on reputation. The idea of having that many guys in Hawaii last season would have been a joke. Cashman and Collins were here last year, so this is a case of the coaching staff coaching those guys up.
However, when you look at where the strength of the team is, you can clearly see where the strategy should be. No team in the league has a trio of wide receivers as good as what the Texans have going now. Granted, there has only been a few games where all three have been healthy at the same time. Still, it is pretty clear where the offense needs to go.
What will the Broncos offense do to the Texans?
The Broncos offense is 25th in total yards, 26th in passing yards, and 13th in rushing. They are 15th overall in points scored. So, when you look at those numbers it is pretty clear that the Broncos are scoring about as efficiently as they possibly could with the production they have. They want to play it pretty close to the vest. They will win the turnover battle and convert red zone opportunities. Wilson is one of the few quarterbacks with fewer interceptions than Stroud, so you better take advantage of whatever few opportunities they give you.
What will the Broncos defense do to the Texans?
The Broncos have only turned the ball over 14 times in 11 games. They’ve given up 280 points on the season, but that is deceptive. 70 of those points came against the Miami Dolphins early in the season. On their winning streak, they have been a lot more stingy. They are dead ass last against the run this season in terms of yards. That might be another misleading stat. Simply put, they lead the league with 22 turnovers. That’s two per game for those not good at simple division. So, they will allow yards in chunks, but they want to coax you into some mistakes.
What will the Texans offense do to the Broncos?
This is one of those traps that we saw against Carolina. The Broncos are bad at defending the run, so let’s take advantage. The problem is that you may be able to see more yards complementing the pass, but this team isn’t good enough to flat out take over a game with their running game. Stroud and those receivers are still the key to the game. If you walk away with one or fewer turnovers then you have a very good chance of scoring enough points to beat this team.
What will the Texans defense do to the Broncos?
The Houston Texans are an average defense by nearly every metric. They are 13th in points allowed and 19th in yards allowed. They are 26th in passing yards allowed. That is their clear weakness. So, the general idea is to limit the run as much as possible to force them into third and longs. Then, maybe the pass rush can force Wilson into a bad throw or two. Maybe they can get to him a few times. Their worst defensive performances have seen them fail to get to the quarterback. They have to provide consistent pressure or this game could go badly.