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Broncos at Texans preview: What’s in store for the Drew Lock Express in Houston?

Drew Lock and the Broncos face a stern test against the Texans. Here are our keys to Sunday’s game in Houston.

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The Drew Lock Express is set for its next stop.

What’s in store for the Denver Broncos (4-8) and Broncos Country when they de-board for Sunday’s game with the Houston Texans (8-4) is still unknown. That doesn’t take away the excitement over what we could see. The Texans will pose a much sterner test than the Los Angeles Chargers for both Lock and Denver.

On the MHR Radio Podcast (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify), Adam Malnati and I talked about the various ways the game could play out for the rookie quarterback and what we think will happen. We also touched on what the defense needs to do to try to slow down Deshaun Watson and the Houston offense.

Offensive Rankings

Denver: Twenty-seventh in overall offense (295.8 yards), 16th in rushing (108.3), 31st in passing (187.4) and 30th in points (16.5).

Houston: Ninth in overall offense (373.8 yards), seventh in rushing (129.8), 12th in passing (243.0) and tenth in points (24.4).

Defensive Rankings

Denver: Eleventh in overall defense (324.2 yards), 20th in rushing (113.7), fifth in passing (210.6) and ninth in points (19.8).

Houston: Twenty-seventh in overall defense (374.0 yards), 19th in rushing (111.1), 28th in passing (262.9) and 17th in points (22.6).

Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Sunday’s game.

Continue building Drewcember

By that I mean give the rookie a little more leash this week. Given what the Texans just did to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Sunday is going to be a tough test for Lock and the Broncos. Put him in the best situation to succeed, but also the offense. Give Lock a little more leash and see what happens. The outcome of the game is secondary to this development. — Ian St. Clair

Limit the bleeding in the secondary

This would require Isaac Yiadom to turn it back on like he did late last year, and for Chris Harris, Justin Simmons, and Kareem Jackson to all ball out. Anything less than good to great play out of at least four defensive backs is going to result in Houston’s passing game running rough-shod over the Broncos defense. Like Sad said a couple weeks ago about the Minnesota Vikings game, praying for divine intervention might be the best option. But, you know, Denver almost won that Vikings game. So I’d say there’s a chance? — Taylor Kothe

Force the Texans into mistakes

That means high-octane offense. That means risk-taking defense. If the Broncos come out and play “their game” (which is just a cliche way of saying conservative football from a team that is not an offensive threat against most FCS programs), they will lose by 20. The Texans offense is liquid fire ignited by one of the best young QBs in the NFL. For Denver to have a chance, it needs to get Houston on its heels and keep it that way for four quarters. — sadaraine

Find Courtland Sutton

If Lock is really going to be the QBOTF for the Broncos, he and Sutton need to continue to build rapport. Get him involved early and often. He has shown to be a true WR1, so let the rookie QB work the ball to him as much as possible and build that relationship on the field. — Adam Malnati

Moar play action on offense

Denver has a clear tendency of running on first down, which is fine as long as you also pepper in tendency breakers in the form of play action off of those run concepts. This is something the Broncos did really well against the Cleveland Browns to help Brandon Allen and keep the Browns off-balance. Denver needs to do the same thing this week to help out Lock and keep the Texans off-balance. With Watson and that Houston offense on the other side, the Broncos offense is going to have to pull their weight this week if they expect to have a shot. — Jeff Essary

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What are your keys to the Broncos winning on Sunday?