By Shawn Lealos
The Houston Texans faced their toughest challenge in Week 6 of the 2016 NFL season and came out of the game with a big overtime win over their toughest division rivals, the Indianapolis Colts. Next up is probably the most personal game of the season for Houston Texans’ starting quarterback Brock Osweiler as they head to Denver to play the Broncos.
This is a big game because Osweiler was supposed to be the quarterback of the future for the Denver Broncos when Peyton Manning retired. Instead, he chose to give up that starting spot and take a big-money contract with the Houston Texans. Now, Osweiler has the Texans sitting in first place in the AFC South while the Denver Broncos have dropped into a first-place tie in the AFC West with the Oakland Raiders.
Here is a look at the Denver Broncos heading into the big Week 7 game against the Houston Texans.
Broncos Season Record: 4-2
The Denver Broncos were on fire through the first four games of the season. They were playing so well that team president John Elway took to Twitter to call out a fan who dismissed their drafting of quarterback Trevor Siemian in the 2015 NFL Draft, a full year after that fan made the original comments. That might have jinxed the Broncos, as Siemian fell to injury and the Broncos lost with rookie Paxton Lynch at quarterback in Week 5 and then lost again this past week, even with Siemian back under center.
Broncos on Offense
The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl last year and it had little to do with their offense. Peyton Manning was a shell of himself and Brock Osweiler was doing just enough to win. This season, Manning is gone and second-year player Trevor Siemian is starting. While Siemian won his first four starts, he ranks 23rd in the NFL in total QBR behind quarterbacks like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Cody Kessler. CJ Anderson is the lead running back, but only has run 330 yards through six games. Demaryius Thomas is only playing as well as his quarterback in any given week with 31 receptions for 416 yards. The Broncos are no better on offense than they were last year and are playing with a less experienced quarterback.
Broncos on Defense
The reason the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl in 2015 was because they had one of the best defenses in the NFL. They have slipped somewhat in 2016. The Broncos rank ninth overall in total defense, giving up 295 yards and 18 points a game. In their last two losses, they gave up 23 points to the Atlanta Falcons and 21 to the San Diego Chargers. The Broncos are still good enough to win with their defense, but they are not as dominating as they were last season.
Players to Watch: Trevor Siemian (QB) and Von Miller (LB)
In the first two games of his NFL career as a starting quarterback, Trevor Siemian threw for 444 yards with one touchdown pass and three interceptions. The Broncos needed to get better play from Siemian, even though they won both games. In his next game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns and looked like he was ready to explode. Unfortunately, he was injured in the next game and returned this past weekend to throw for 230 yards and one touchdown. However, he only averaged 7.6 yards per completion. He needs to play better to beat Houston.
As for Von Miller, he is still the best player on the Broncos team. Miller has 19 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and a forced fumble on the year so far. Miller will make life tough for Brock Osweiler this week.
Heading into the 2016 NFL season, this was a game circled on the calendar for many Denver Broncos fans. While Brock Osweiler has said all the right things about respecting the city of Denver and his teammates, he still left the Broncos without a starting quarterback when he took the money and moved to Houston.
After six weeks, both the Texans and Broncos are 4-2 and the winner of this game will determine what direction the two teams are headed. Denver played well to start the season but is inconsistent. This is a game Houston can win, but they have to deal with Von Miller and the Broncos’ lethal defense in order to do so.