Houston Texans (4-2) vs. Denver Broncos (4-2)
8:30pm ET on ESPN
You know that super awkward thing where you throw a party and your ex shows up with with someone else? Yeah, that what it’s gonna be like tonight when the Houston Texans and quarterback Brock Osweiler show up a Mile High Stadium to face the Denver Broncos. Are the Broncos excited to see their former QB, who led them to a 5-2 record in the midst of their title run last season? You bet they are:
And catching Osweiler could be easier than normal, as he’s coming into the game with a foot injury sustained during the Houston’s double-overtime win over the Colts last week. The Texans won that game after Osweiler led the team on back-to-back TD drives in the 4th quarter, as he completed 11 of 13 pass in drives of 75 and 53 yards. It was the best game of a disappointing season for Osweiler, who completed 25 of 39 for 269 yards 2 TDs and an interception. Coming into Week 7 Osweiler’s 59% completion percentage was 27th in the league, his 233.7 yards per game was 26th, his 74.1 rating was ahead of only Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Fitzpatrick. This is not who the Texans were hoping they we getting when they signed Osweiler to a 4-year, $72 million contract. It’s much more like the place-holder QB the Broncos thought they were letting walk.
The Texans’ defense, which last year was 7th in the league in points allowed, suffered a huge hit when JJ Watt’s persistent back problems finally forced him to undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season. Since his absence following the New England game, which they lost 27-0, the team’s points allowed has jumped from 17.6 to 24.6 – it’s hard to stay competitive when you’re suddenly surrendering an extra touchdown a game. The one bright spot for Houston has been the emergence of Lamar Miller, who’s 5th in the league in rushing with 520 yards, but like the rest of his team, he’s had trouble getting into the end zone, scoring just one touchdown. And that’s how you end up 30th in the league at 18 points per game.
The Broncos aren’t exactly pining for Brock, as they’ve found happiness in the arm of sophomore QB Trevor Siemian, who’s 4-1 as a starter this year, his lone defeat coming at the hands of the Chargers, the best losing team in the NFL. Siemian’s connected on 64.9% of his passes for 1054 yards and 7 TDs thus far, with just 3 interceptions, which ain’t too shabby for a guy who took the helm of a defending Super Bowl champion without ever before having thrown a single pass in his NFL career. Making Siemian’s transition easier has been the presence of former Pro Bowl receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who are 21st and 22nd respectively in receiving yards.
The Denver defense remains as formidable as ever, allowing 18 points per game, a half-point better than last year, as Von Miller continues to attack quarterbacks like a man possessed, while Aqib Talib keeps on laying waste to receivers who dare enter his realm.
The Broncos managed to win the Super Bowl last year with Peyton Manning’s chalk outline leading essentially the same supporting cast. Having gotten what appears to be a major upgrade at QB, it’s hard to imagine them getting beaten by the QB they kicked to the curb with a limping defense.
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