clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Texans at Broncos preview: Denver looks to rebound after tough loss

After the season-opening loss, there are some definite issues to correct. The good news is they’re fixable.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

That was an inauspicious start.

The good news for Russell Wilson, Nathaniel Hackett and the Denver Broncos is it’s a 17-game season. And to steal a phrase from Bill Belichick, the Broncos are “on to the Houston Texans.”

This will be the first chance for Broncos Country to see Wilson play at his new home. Needless to say Mile High Stadium will bring the Rocky Mountain Thunder on Sunday. Will Denver correct the issues from the season-opening loss?

Over at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Broncos are a current -10-point favorite over Houston. Heading into Monday night’s game, Denver was -10.5. So the loss in Seattle didn’t impact the line much at all. From a Broncos betting perspective, I’d be interested to see if that number dips below 10 at any point. As for the total, that number sits at 45.

Offensive Rankings

Houston: Twenty-Third in overall offense (299 yards per game), 23rd in rushing (77), 17th in passing (222), tied 17th in scoring offense (20 points per game).

Denver: Fourth in overall offense (433 yards per game), 16th in rushing (103), third in passing (330), 26th in scoring offense (16 points per game).

Defensive Rankings

Houston: Thirty-second in overall defense (517 yards per game), 27th in rushing defense (177), 31st in passing defense (340), tied for 12th in scoring defense (20 points per game).

Denver: Fourth in overall defense (253 yards per game), tied for eighth in rushing defense (76), sixth in passing defense (177), eighth in scoring defense (17 points per game).

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

Red zone/goal-to-go offense

Whatever the reasons are for the Wilson and the Broncos going 0-for-4 in the red zone, they need to get corrected. You cannot make four trips into the red zone, two inside the 5-yard line and come away with zero touchdowns. Score just one TD on Monday and Denver wins the game. Play calling, execution, mental focus, rustiness, that part of the Broncos offense needs to get better on Sunday against Houston. — Ian St. Clair

Get an early lead

So far, Davis Mills has done quite a bit better than most expected him to. And ending up in a tie with the favorites to win the AFC South last week was not a terrible outcome for him or his Texans. But so far in his career Mills has had a tendency to play well only when the pressure is off. Build a lead, force the Texans to play from behind and rely on Mills to lift their team, and that’s where you’re likely to see him fail. That’s where you’re likely to see turnovers also start racking up. — Taylor Kothe

Penalty discipline

In Week One, Denver constantly shot their own feet on both sides of the ball with untimely penalties. False starts, illegal shifts, delay of games, DPIs, unsportsmanlike conduct ... you name it. Denver’s starters were as disorganized and sloppy presnap as I’ve ever seen. Luckily they have a chance to show that this sloppiness was more about nerves and the incredibly hostile Seattle environment than an overarching issue instilling discipline from the coaching staff. Regardless, it should be much easier for the team to be in sync playing in front of the home crowd against Houston. Especially as the Broncos get more and more snaps together due to no major starters receiving preseason snaps. — Frankie Abbott

Better game management

Hackett went into the 2-minute drive with all of his timeouts and didn’t use them. He also wasted almost an entire minute, and then he decided to kick a 64-yard field goal rather than giving the ball to Wilson. Lining up in shotgun on the Seahawks 1-yard line also lead to a turnover. The game management needs improve for the Broncos. — Tanner Watts

Get to the QB early and often

The secondary has been taking criticism for Seattle’s WRs getting so open on Monday night, but part of that should be reserved for the pass rush, or lack thereof. While Bradley Chubb did bounce back in the second half, the defensive front allowed Geno Smith far too much time in the first half and allowed him to set the tone early. The Broncos pass rush is too talented to allow that, and it needs to bounce back by making Davis Mills uncomfortable early in the game. — Nick Burch

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

What are your keys to Sunday’s game?