The texans had one of the better defensive teams in the NFL last year. This year they continued that. They have held teams to 17 total points, 24 first downs, and 392 total yards. They have racked up 6 sacks, and are +5 in the turnover ratio. That's pretty good, however they have played the Dolphins and Jaguars, and neither has a great offense. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips coached up this unit well, and will give the Broncos offense fits come sunday.
Now lets take a look at the starters for the Texans Defense...
DE: JJ Watt, Antonio Smith
NT: Shaun Cody
FS: Glover Quinn
SS: Daniel Manning
The texans have a great D-Line. JJ Watt is a beast, Antonio Smith is solid, and Shaun Cody is a solid NT. Watt will be lined up against LT Ryan Clady, so that will be an interesting battle to watch during the game. Clady and Franklin are both in for a tough game. I dont expect the Broncos to get a ton of yards on the ground, but i think we can get some decent yards on the ground. One thing you don't expect from 3-4 DE's is a pass rush, but Smith and especially Watt have got after the QB. Watt has 3 sacks, while Smith has 1, so that's something to also keep an eye on.
The Broncos D-Line is up for a big test sunday. For the first time this year, they will go against a great run attack. The Broncos have only allowed 142 yards on the ground, but they have faced Pittsburghs backups and a quickly declining Michael Turner, so sunday will be a true test for this unit. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are a tough 2 headed monster. Justin Bannan, Kevin Vickerson and Mitch Unrein have to hold the middle and Derek Wolfe and Robert Ayers will have to set the edge. I think we'll see alot of Ayers in this game, in place of Dumervil. I'm intrigued to see how our D-Line fairs against these guys. Would make a huge statement if we held the Texans ground game in check.
Who needs Mario Williams? The Texans have a trio of Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, and Whitney Mercilus who can get after the QB. The only one of this group with a sack is Brooks Reed, but all 3 are capable. In the Middle is stud ILB Brian Cushing and veteran Bradie James. Cushing is a very good LB and will be a force in stopping the run game. James, a veteran isn't nearly as good as Cushing, but is decent. Overall this a very good and fairly young unit. The Broncos O-Line/RB's and TE's have a tough task on their hands.
Joe Mays, this is a big game for you. The Texans have an elite ground attack, and we need you to be a force in the middle of the defense. Woodyard has been a tackling machine, and Von is well a stud. Von can always get after the passer, and we need him to again this week. One of these 3 needs to help out on Owen Daniels too. He's one of Schaubs favorite targets so he may need extra attention.
The texans have a pretty solid secondary. Johnathan Joseph is one of the better CB's in the league, and Jackson is a former 1st round pick. Both Jackson and Johnathan have an INT this year. Both will give Decker and DT a run for their money. The Texans safeties are decent. Daniel Manning and Glover Quinn won't blow anyone away, but i said the same thing last week about the Falcons safeties, and we all saw how that went. We need Manning not to force the ball and make poor decisions this week, otherwise this unit will make Manning pay.
Champ, you need to shut down Andre Johnson. The texans lack weapons outside of him. Walters is a decent WR and Daniels is a solid TE, but after him, their is a lot of unknowns. Porter needs to have another solid game, and make an impact play. He almost had a huge pick 6 again last week, so hopefully he does it again. Rahim Moore needs a big play. He's always so close to one, but never seals the deal. Him and Adams need to make sure no one beats them deep, and also helps on the RB's and TE's in the passing game. Foster is a weapon as a WR and as i said, Daniels is one of Schaubs favorite targets. I'm hoping they give Quinton Carter some reps back their eventually as well.