As the NFL season starts to move into its second half, the Houston Texans (4-2, 1st in the AFC South) travel to Sports Authority Field for a showdown with the Denver Broncos (4-2, 2nd in the AFC West) with more than just possible playoff implications on the line (8.30pm ET Monday on ESPN).
That’s because prior to this Monday’s contest, Denver’s Brandon Marshall made it very clear that the Broncos are going to go after Brock Osweiler (pictured) and go after him hard. That’s because Osweiler will be making his Texan debut against his former team. And given that both the Broncos and the Texans are playing well right now, it should shape up to be a high intensity and emotional contest.
Here are the themes that should decide which way our predictions and betting picks go at the conclusion of this preview:
How Good are the Broncos?
When the season began, the Denver Broncos seemed to pick up right where they left off. They opened with a win over the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl rematch from last year and then proceeded to win each of their next three. They did this with a quarterback who went from being third string on the depth chart to starting for the defending champions in Trevor Siemian.
Denver’s defense of course was still the main story as they dominated time of possession and gave Siemian every opportunity to succeed as a rookie quarterback. Anchored by Von Miller, the defense kept opponents to less than 21 points in each of the first four games, including just seven in week four against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But then the Broncos ran into the buzzsaw of offense that has been the Atlanta Falcons and while they held the team to 23 points, Denver couldn’t keep up the scoring on their own end. Offensively the team managed just 16 points in their first home loss in quite some time. And then the following week, Denver lost again, this time to the San Diego Chargers on the road.
Defensively, the Broncos haven’t looked bad but they have struggled to score against defenses which are not exactly highly ranked in the league. This has brought some to question the validity of the team’s start and to wonder if the Broncos we saw during the first four weeks of the season or the Broncos we are seeing now are the real version of the team.
One of the Broncos’ biggest issues as of late has been running the ball. After the first two weeks of the season, CJ Anderson carried the ball 20 times per game for over 70 yards each time. Since then however, he hasn’t topped 50 and in his last two games has only carried the ball a total of 21 times. Still the team’s leading rusher, Anderson has a great match-up against the Texans, the 29th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL. If he can get going again, it’s possible the rest of the offense will get going too.
Welcome Back Brock
In the NFL, quarterbacks, especially those whose job was merely working as a backup, often find themselves playing for several teams throughout their career. It happens so frequently in fact, that when these quarterbacks play their old teams for the first time, there really isn’t much fanfare associated with it outside of the two teams themselves.
This week, the NFL actually saw two of those match-ups as on Sunday, Sam Bradford took on the Philadelphia Eagles for the first time since he was traded. After three quarters, the Vikings had scored just three points and Bradford himself had just 117 yards and one interception on 27 attempts. For the NFL’s leading signal caller in completion percentage, he finished Sunday’s game about 20 percent below that average. Needless to say, he’ll end up in the category of QBs who did not fare well against their former team.
Osweiler will be hoping for an opposite result as he looks to join the group of quarterbacks who came into town and showed their former team what they are missing by not having signed them. Given Osweiler was on a Super Bowl winning team, he might have even more to prove. In addition they opted not to have him step up as the starter after Peyton Manning’s retirement.
In his Denver career, Osweiler attempted just over 30 passes in his three years off the bench, before having his opportunity last year as a spot starter. In those seven games, Osweiler turned in a 5-2 record and used that to get his payday with the Texans. The starting job however seemed to be his to lose and given he did to Siemian, who has performed better in the regular season and performed better in training camp to win the job in the first place, Osweiler should look to have a strong game on Monday.
Like the Broncos however, the Texans offense has been up and down. They are coming off one of their best games however thanks to Lamar Miller’s breakout performance of 149 yards against the Indianapolis Colts. It was an overtime win that helped supplant Houston as the best team in their division.
It will be Miller vs Miller on Monday but the main storyline will still be Osweiler and his attempts to prove the Broncos made a mistake.
Our Preview’s Houston Texans vs Denver Broncos Betting Picks’ Verdict
Sometimes, the goal to prove yourself can be detrimental. It can lead to making mistakes in an attempt to over-perform. That’s why so many quarterbacks have fallen victim to Bradford’s fate from Sunday in the Minnesota Vikings loss to the Eagles, their first loss of the season.
Osweiler will also have to deal with the team being huge underdogs as on the road, the Texans come in having to make up at least nine points according to the best of the USA oddsmakers. That’s a pretty big margin for a team that, like the Broncos, has won or lost most of its games this season on close numbers. I think the same will be the case Monday night.
So for this preview’s betting prediction the picks are:
- Take the Texans to best the spread, even if the Broncos do in fact win. Bet on Houston +9.5pts @ -125 betting odds with 5Dimes Sportsbook. It is +9pts @ -115 with both of Bovada and BetOnline.
- As for the 40.5 total points in the game, the pick is to go over 40.5pts which is best backed with Bovada or 5Dimes sportsbooks @ -110. It is -115 with BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.