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Houston Texans

Denver Broncos | Know Your Foe

Well, the Texans have never been 0-0-1 in a season before; furthermore, they've never even had a one in the far right column. However, that's what was left for them after the first tie in Texans history against one of the NFL's top teams last week. This week presents a much different challenge, or challenges.

First road regular season game of the year. 

Potential altitude issues. 

Facing a mega-talented football squad playing at home for the first time in 2022.

A future potential HOF QB on the other side coming off his week one reunion in Seattle with a loss. 

Suffice to say, Denver QB Russell Wilson and company aren't about to take this one lightly and cruise through this afternoon contest with your Texans.

It's been a few years since the Texans traveled to Denver; in fact, there isn't a position player on the 53-man roster that was part of the Texans 19-17 win over the Broncos in 2018. Luckily, current Texans K Kai'mi Fairbairn was part of that roster and nailed the go-ahead field goal four years ago. Here's hoping that he does a similar thing in Denver on Sunday. 

Wilson and the Broncos went to Seattle on Monday night so they're working on a short week after the 17-16 loss to Seattle. Furthermore, they lost one of the league's best defenders when 

S Justin Simmons was lost to injury and placed on IR on Monday. That injury will have major ramifications for the Broncos defense but it's up to the Texans to exploit that absence on offense.

I'm always looking for a stat and here's one - Russell Wilson has never lost to the Texans - 2013, 2017, 2021 - 3-0. Here's hoping that changes on Sunday as Wilson suits up for the Broncos against the Texans for the first time. As such, let's get to know this version of the Denver Broncos in preparation for the first meeting between the two teams since the Broncos handled the Texans in 2019 at NRG Stadium.

2022 Schedule (0-1)

Table inside Article
Week Opponent
Week 1 @ Seattle Seahawks (L, 17-16)
Week 2 Houston Texans
Week 3 San Francisco 49ers
Week 4 @ Las Vegas Raiders
Week 5 Indianapolis Colts
Week 6 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Week 7 New York Jets
Week 8 @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 10 @ Tennessee Titans
Week 11 Las Vegas Raiders
Week 12 @ Carolina Panthers
Week 13 @ Baltimore Ravens
Week 14 Kansas City Chiefs
Week 15 Arizona Cardinals
Week 16 @ Los Angeles Rams
Week 17 @ Kansas City Chiefs
Week 18 Los Angeles Chargers

Broncos OFFENSE (in 2022 Regular Season)

Table inside Article
Rushing Yards Per game 103.0 ypg (17th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Per game 330.0 ypg (3rd)
Total offense per game 433.0 ypg (4th)
Turnovers lost 2 (2 Fumbles lost)

Expected Broncos starting offense for Week 2

Table inside Article
RB Javonte Williams
TE Albert Okwuegbunam
WR Jerry Jeudy
WR Courtland Sutton
TE/FB Andrew Beck
LT Garrett Bolles
LG Dalton Risner
C Lloyd Cushenberry
RG Quinn Meinerz
RT Cameron Fleming

Key offensive non-starters

Table inside Article
RB Melvin Gordon III
TE Eric Tomlinson
WR K.J. Hamler

ALL CAPS = New to team in 2022

Keys to winning v. the Broncos offense

1. Force him to the middle
Wilson has been an outstanding QB for quite some time. But, if he does have an Achilles heel, it's throwing the ball successfully in the middle of the field. In the loss to the Seahawks, the only throws that he made in the middle of the field (from numbers to numbers) were two checkdowns to his RBs. Everything else was perimeter/outside based. Well, take that away from him and force him to have to throw inside where his sight lines are a little cloudier.

2. He's not JT 28 but JW 33 is a problem
Going from facing Colts star RB Jonathan Taylor to Broncos RB Javonte Williams is like going from wrestling a bear to wrestling a gator - difficult to just as difficult. Williams is one of the most underappreciated backs in the NFL and he's a huge issue for the Texans defense. Power. Speed. Compact. Contact balance. Receiving skills. He IS the full package. The Texans allowed Taylor too many downhill running lanes in the second half, in particular, in last week's tie. Williams may not be as difficult to tackle (but close); however, if he has downhill lanes like THAT, the Texans are in for a massively long day.

3. More interior pressure, please
Key three and key one go hand in hand but this one is important every single week. There's so much talk about edge rushers, but ask QBs in a quiet moment what irritates them most and they'll tell you interior pressure at their feet. This becomes especially important for Wilson because the quicker/more disruptive the defensive interior is in the pass rush, the less likely he is to get the ball out to the numbers or the sideline. The second part of interior pressure is the contain rushers being well aware that Wilson will try to make his escape when they get into his face. He'll elude the interior by escaping to the outside and the Texans can't let him get all the way to the outside. The Texans pass rush must work together in all phases on Sunday against one of the slipperiest QBs in the league.

Broncos DEFENSE (in 2022 Regular Season)

Table inside Article
Rushing Yards Allowed Per game 76.0 ypg (9th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Allowed Per game 177.0 ypg (6th)
Total offense Allowed per game 253.0 ypg (4th)
Turnovers generated 1 (1 Fumble recovery - Broncos are -1 in TO margin)

Expected Broncos starting defense for Week 2

Table inside Article
OLB Bradley Chubb
DE Dre’Mont Jones
DE DeShawn Williams
LB Josey Jewell
S Kareem Jackson
S Caden Sterns
CB Patrick Surtain II

Key defensive non-starters

Table inside Article
LB Jonas Griffith
OLB Jonathan Cooper
LB Baron Browning
DT Mike Purcell

ALL CAPS = New to team in 2022

Keys to winning v. the Broncos defense

1. Do the edges need help?
Broncos speedy OLB Randy Gregory has been on the injury report this week with a couple of injured/sore spots. But, if he's relatively healthy enough to go, he and fellow OLB Bradley Chubb make up one of the more interesting, and disruptive, edge rushing duos in the league. The AFC West is LOADED at that spot, and these two are big reasons why. However, the Texans two starting tackles - Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard have as much experience on the edge as many other pairings in the league. It's okay to give them help, especially if one of the two pass rushers gets hot, but it's the best case scenario if Tytus/Laremy handle their one-on-one business well to give TE/RB free run into pass routes.

2. Run at them
This Broncos front is different on many levels. First, it's a 3-4 front. Secondly, the interior three aren't quite on the level of the Colts' two. Now, I think the Colts duo of DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart is as good as it gets in the league and the Broncos' front isn't all that far behind. D.J. Jones was the underrated acquisition of the offseason and Dre'Mont Jones is one of the best young interior players around. That said…RUN AT THEM. Challenge them up front and force the Broncos LBs to have to make every play. It won't be easy but if the Texans can't find an effective run game, it's going to make what I'm about to say in key three very difficult.

3. No Simmons? Whatcha going to do about it?
The loss of All-Pro S Justin Simmons is as big a loss as could be for any team. Simmons was the heartbeat and soul of this defense in the back end. He'll be back this season but was put on IR this past Monday and will miss this game. The Texans' ability to challenge the Broncos' back end without Simmons is a major key. Complicate Caden Sterns' reads. Give him a lot to view. Motions, shifts, trades, unbalanced, whatever Texans OC Pep Hamilton has available, he should use to confuse, and conflict, that secondary without Simmons. And, most importantly, take a shot, or two, with Sterns back there and see if he can handle it like the guy that would've handled it (Simmons).

The (0-0-1) Texans will face the (0-1) Denver Broncos in Week 2. Sunday's kickoff from Empower Field at Mile High is set for 3:25 p.m. CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.

Browse no fee tickets for Texans-Chargers on October 2 @ 12:00 PM.

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