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Broncos vs Texans preview: Houston, does Denver have a problem?

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The Broncos have an opportunity to end Houston’s five-game winning streak and enter their bye on a positive note.

This should be interesting.

By now you know that the Denver Broncos sent Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans prior Tuesday’s trade deadline. Thomas’ first game for the Texans will come in Denver against his former team. As I said, interesting.

Houston (5-3) enters Sunday’s game on a five-game winning streak and a pass rush poised to wreak serious havoc on a Broncos (3-5) offensive line that can’t pass protect. Denver, meanwhile, has one win in six games and is in serious need of a win before its bye.

As Adam Malnati and I talked about on the latest MHR Radio Podcast, Houston, we may have a problem. We obviously preview Sunday’s game, but also focus on the trade of Thomas. For that we welcomed Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann to offer her thoughts on the move, and she proceed to go on a little (large) rant.

Offensive Rankings

Houston: Fifteenth in overall offense (379.0 yards), 11th in rushing (123.0), 18th in passing (256.0) and tied for 14th in points (24.6).

Denver: Thirteenth in overall offense (380.8 yards), seventh in rushing (133.1), 20th in passing (247.6) and 20th in points (23.5).

Defense Rankings

Houston: Ninth in overall defense (334.9 yards), seventh in rushing (95.1), 12th in passing (239.8) and ninth in points (20.9).

Denver: Twenty-second in overall defense (373.3 yards), 27th in rushing (135.8), 11th in passing (237.5) and 14th in points (24.3).

Here are our keys to the game.

Give Garett Bolles help

As I said on the podcast, the Broncos second-year left tackle will attempt to not hold J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney on Sunday — eek. Denver has to muster all the help it can get for Bolles or it will be a long afternoon for Case Keenum. — Ian St. Clair

Quit holding

Short and sweet. — Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann

Protect Keenum from himself

If Denver doesn’t find a way to do that facing Watt, Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, nothing else will matter. — Just_JoRo

Turnovers

The Broncos can win this game if they find a way to get and capitalize on turnovers. Taking the ball away and turning it into points will be paramount to keeping up with the Texans offense. — Adam Malnati

Rinse, lather, repeat

Denver’s offense needs to focus on rushing and play action against the Texans defense. Defensively the Broncos need to just pin Von Miller’s and Bradley Chubb’s ears back and let the Orange Rush go to it. The Texans’ biggest vulnerability is their horrible offensive line. So go get in Deshaun Watson’s face, and introduce his jersey to the Mile High turf as often as possible. I’m talking a six-eight-sack outing that should be entirely possible with Denver’s pass rush (the Texans have already allowed two seven-sack games). If the Broncos do that one thing, they probably win this game. If they don’t do that one thing, we get the Miami Dolphins treatment. — Taylor Kothe

Prove it

Word is that Denver players are frustrated because they feel that they’re better than their record shows right now. So they need go out this weekend and prove it against a team that’s warmed up and hot on a win streak. In order to be seen as not the bottom of the league, then Denver needs to actually beat a team that’s not in the bottom of the league or at Mile High in early September when away teams are at a huge disadvantage, because that’s literally the only games Denver has won in nearly three years.

It’s not some complex schematic adjustment the Broncos need. Just quit beating yourself, and go win a damn game. Quit missing tackles, ruining good plays because of penalties, throwing interceptions, and being stupid in coverage. This isn’t rocket science. You want to win a game? Then play like you want to win a game. — Jeff Essary

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What are your keys to victory for the Broncos?