There's been so much talk about what the offense is doing this week. And for good reason. The Texans are facing a defense that finished 3rd in the NFL last season.
But it's not like Texans' D has a night off. Peyton Manning will be on the same field where he broke the single season TD pass record two years ago. And those of you who only remember the lackluster playoff exit from last year should be reminded that Denver put up over 30 points per game in 2014 (2nd in the NFL) and finished fourth in total offense.
Sure it's preseason. But this game could be a big indicator of where this defense is at the moment. The starters will play more and have to deal with a quarterback who has been the single biggest Goliath to the league's youngest franchise.
Manning is 17-3 against the Texans. The only times Houston got the better of the future Hall of Famer were in '06 with Ron Dayne carrying the load, '10 with Arian Foster racking up 231 yards and in Denver in '12 with Matt Schaub playing one of the best games of his career.
Manning is 39 years old but don't write him off just yet. Many did after he left Indy and all he did was go to another Super Bowl and set more records. Now he's being coached by Gary Kubiak. If you had told me four years ago that Kubiak would be coaching Manning in Denver I would have told you to seek medical attention. But here we are.
Romeo Crennel's pass rush is key. But so is the back end. Houston's secondary must be able to hang with whoever Denver throws out there long enough to get pressure on Manning. Certainly Manning wants to sling it but Kubiak probably wants to get the running game cranked up to take the heat off his quarterback.
Rahim Moore had four picks last year for the Broncos, tying for the team lead. Now he faces his former team. This is a great test for the Texans safeties and linebackers, covering Denver's tight ends (hello Owen Daniels) and backs. Manning should be looking to get the ball out quickly to avoid contact. He's a master at walking up to the line and picking out the optimum match up.
This will be a fun one. It's a big challenge on both sides of the ball.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 4/14/2021)