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Three and Out: Texans-Broncos Predictions

The BRB staff gathers to predict Sunday’s game between the Texans and Broncos in Denver.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans are riding high on the heels of a five-game winning streak and the addition of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The Texans will of course have Thomas on the field Sunday afternoon against the Broncos after a long break following the big Thursday night win over Miami last week.

Let’s see how the BRB masthead sees Sunday’s contest which pits Houston’s rising offense against the dangerous pass-rushing combo of Denver’s Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, going:

Tim: Texans 24, Broncos 20.

I pegged this as a loss before the season started. I’ve changed my mind because (1) the Broncos--especially on defense--are worse than I expected; (2) despite having a productive running game, Denver seems to prefer letting Case Keenum drop back thirty-plus times a game; and (3) Keenum just lost one of his best targets (not the best; that’d be Emmanuel Sanders) when the Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas to Houston.

Winning in Denver is never easy, and the Texans lost an explosive component of their offense when Will Fuller went down, but give me Houston to win a close one on the strength of a couple of Keenum turnovers.

Oh, and Demaryius Thomas scores a TD in his first game as a Texan.

Chris: Texans 23, Broncos 20.

I originally wrote my entry to reflect how I’m not quite there yet with the Texans and how the Broncos would pull out a close win. The more I think about it, the more I just don’t see the Broncos winning despite the truly frightening reality of how Johnathan Joseph will not play on Sunday. So I changed my mind. I think the Texans will pull out a very close win, with their offensive line riding the razor’s edge all game long against Miller and Chubb.

I’d feel most comfortable with this prediction if I knew for sure Keke Coutee was going to play, but we aren’t likely to know this until inactives are announced about an hour and a half before kickoff. I’ll be VERY curious to see if the Houston offense can keep it rolling, if the running game builds on its momentum, etc. If all those things happen, I just might start rethinking this Houston team in 2018.

Matt Weston: Texans 23, Broncos 20.

When Houston plays teams that have to run the ball on offense, they are okay. The Broncos are second in run offense DVOA but 24th in pass offense DVOA. The Texans are first in run defense DVOA and have strangled every rushing attack they’ve faced. Dallas, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Miami all struggled to run the ball against the Texans during the win streak. I’m expecting more of the same against Denver.

On the other hand, the Broncos are second in pass defense DVOA. Von Miller, Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett, and Bradley Chubb form a Jigsaw nightmare for Deshaun Watson. All game long, the Broncos’ pass rush is going to be like one of those Greek myths where buzzards pluck out guts. Instead of the agony being eteral, it will be for 60 minutes.

As long as Watson doesn’t turn the ball over to give the Broncos easy points, the Texans should win. I trust Watson over Case Keenum to make plays in this one. Keenum doesn’t have the ability to spread Houston out and attack the Texans’ nonexistent cornerback play. Oh, and Keenum will be dealing with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney; both are pass rush match-up advantages over Garet Bolles and Jared Veldheer.

It’s going to be close. It’s going to be FUN. I’m nostalgic as hell for this one.

MDC: Broncos 24, Texans 21.

I don’t have a real strong basis for this prediction. It’s mainly just based on my gut feeling that the Texans are, at their core, a .500 team at best. So they certainly don’t feel like a team that is going to rattle off six straight wins in a league where only eight teams have had a win streak of six or more games in the last two seasons.

Plus, let’s be honest -- Brain O’Brain is beyond due for another WTF? decision that costs the Texans a game.

Capt. Ron: Texans 23, Broncos 20.

2018 is the year of overtime games, and we’ll see one of those for this tilt as two teams scrap all day for a much needed win for their club.

I think this will be a ground-pounding grinder all day for Houston’s offense to limit Deshaun Watson’s risk from Denver’s pass rush. Ka’imi Fairbairn will notch what will end up as the game-winning score as the Texans stall out in O’Brien’s “red area” after winning the OT coin toss. Houston’s defense will seal the deal by collecting a turnover from Case Keenum.

BFmf’nD: Texans 23, Broncos 17.

First, we’re going to return to one-score games, right?

Secondly, teams that rely on the run game simply have little chance against our defense, and Case Keenum is back to #TEAMKEENUM (Matt Damon’d). The Broncos are second in rushing offense DVOA and 24th in passing. Good luck trying to run against this defense, Broncos.

Offensively, Bradley Chubb and Von Miller will give our line plenty to handle, but the offensive line is starting to show signs of coming together. The big question is how conservative the offense will be after last week’s scoring explosion.

Kenneth: Broncos 24, Texans 18.

The absence of Will Fuller will be very apparent as the game gets closer. The Broncos are good at everything where the Texans have weaknesses. Chubb and Miller are going to wreak havoc on our offensive line, which will force us to shrink the field and commit more to stopping the pass rush. The addition of Demaryius Thomas to the offense should have less of an impact this week as the Broncos corners will be very familiar with him and his route running. Although the trade took a weapon off the board for the Broncos, they will know how to stop him better than anyone.

The other major weakness versus strength in this game is the Texans’ corners against Denver’s wide receivers. Emmanuel Sanders is going to smoke this defense and the third-string DBs that we will have on the field. Courtland Sutton is also going to have a big game this week. I can just feel it.

I see the Texans stopping Royce Freeman, as we do an excellent job of setting the edge against zone run schemes. Credit that to Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney being stud defenders.

Too many times, this team has been on all-time highs just to be leveled by an inferior opponent. Do not count the Broncos out just yet as a Wild Card team. All of their losses have been fairly close games, and trying to win in Denver is not a walk in the park.

Matt “FNG” Burnham: Texans 24, Broncos 13.

It all starts with Deshaun Watson taking advantage of his newest weapon, Demaryius Thomas. Expect Thomas to make a loud debut with his new team, and expect the defense to play with high energy as the Texans are beginning to make a playoff push. The Broncos’ defense is respectable and will surely complicate things for Houston’s young quarterback, but in the end, Denver will not have the offense to match.

Mike Bullock: Texans 26, Broncos 24.

Houston gets off to a slow start and then rolls out to a lead over the Broncos by halftime. We get the same graphic of how Bill O’Brien wins 99.9% of the games when he’s leading at the half, but Denver makes better halftime adjustments and comes roaring back, requiring the Texans to get a last minute field goal to save a win.

Everyone goes nuts. Bill O’Brien gets touted as Coach of the Year by all the talking heads. Demaryius Thomas gets touted as the best personnel decision Houston has ever made (neither that nor the O’Brien COY talk is true or has any basis in reality). We ride into the bye on a six-game winning streak.

Upside: We’re finally getting some enjoyable football. Downside: Everyone still has that “the bottom is going to drop out in 3, 2, 1...” feeling as we wait for the O’Brien we know and love to flub the Texans back to 8-8 to finish the season.

How do see the game going, BRB? Use the comments section to share your predictions, and above all else - enjoy your football weekend!