The Houston Texans had no problem running through the first two games of the 2012 regular season against the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars. They outscored the two teams a 57-17 and allowed under 250 total yards in each game. Now in the 3rd week of the season the Texans face their first real test of the year. The Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos are next in the way of the 2011 AFC South Champs. Manning will be hoping to put his team back onto the winning track after a loss on Monday night to the Atlanta Falcons. In Manning the Texans face a QB with a 16-2 record against their franchise, and 9-0 all time against the Texans when playing at home (all w/Colts).
The Texans will try to impose their will on the Broncos from start to finish with the run game all day on Sunday afternoon on CBS. This will help keep Manning off the field and keep the crowd out of the game while the Texans offense is trying to put together lengthy drives all game. After big games from both Arian Foster and Ben Tate I’m sure the Texans feel up to the task this week. When the ball isn’t in the hands of Foster and Tate it will be play action bootlegs used to move the ball down field. The Texans will try to keep Matt Schaub and the pocket on the move to neutralize the pass rush talent of Denver’s Von Miller and Elvis Dummervil. After seeing the coverage in the Monday night game I think it will be very possible for Andre Johnson to get going in this game. Both Roddy White and Julio Jones were effective and didn’t see much bump and run coverage. FB James Casey could be huge on Sunday coming out of the backfield into the flats. Denver likes the rush the edge and that should get him some looks in the flats off hot reads and play actions.
The defense will be looking to do the same thing it did the first 2 weeks of the season, stop the run and not allow big plays during the course of a whole game. The Bronco’s are not the Dolphins or the Jaguars so I do expect them to play much better than both of those teams did. They’ll look to put pressure on Manning early and force him to make decisions as the Falcons did in the 1st quarter of the game on Monday. The Texans will have to be able to stop the run with their front 4 this week to be able to play the game they want defensively. Manning and the Broncos will a lot of no huddle so I expect that we’ll see mostly nickel coverages from them to start to help in coverage. DE’s JJ Watt and Antonio Smith will have to establish their edges and keep runs inside where they can be contained which isn’t easy because the Broncos run so much out of the shotgun. In the secondary I would expect to see Jonathan Joseph on Demaryius Thomas most of the game on Sunday. Joseph has been proving his 1st Pro Bowl selection last year was deserved.
As a team the Houston Texans have the best defense in the NFL, giving up 124 yards receiving and 72 yards rushing a game. They are also 1 of 2 of the 2-0 teams without a turnover this season. These are both trends that’ll have to continue for them to leave with the franchises 1st win in Mile High Stadium and the franchises 1st 3-0 start ever.