Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans Preview and Pick – Thursday Night Football

Denver Broncos (6-7) pk, 47.5 O/U at Houston Texans (6-7) pk, Reliant Stadium, Houston, 8.15pm EST Thursday
by The Crazy Snake of

What better way to start the football week than with a pick ’em between two teams at 6-7. Look, I know the sportsbooks in their great wisdom decided to post the Broncos as 1 point favorites, but as I have said before I never quite understood the 1 point line and if I was keen to back a team to cover the spread I would be happy to risk a push if they won or lost by a point. Naturally, both teams are over -100, such is the nature of bookmaker margins in tight games, but with Pinnacle Sports I saw -101 about Houston so let’s just call that even.

Both teams obviously come off a short week, but with home field advantage for the second week in a row, coming off a win and without the need to travel the Texans take a significant pre-game advantage going in here. Add that to the fact that Denver has been a bit Jekyll and Hyde on the road versus their form within the confines of Mile High and Houston picks up a little more ground in the hypothetical stakes.

Last week Sage Rosenfels was looking pretty impressive in completing 27 of 36 for 209 yards. What makes that even more significant is that Tampa Bay is ranked 4th in the league against the pass. It’s not as though he picked apart the porous defense of Detroit or Cleveland. The Bucs have a solid defensive unit, especially through the air. In reality, the game was probably decided by the absence of Jeff Garcia again for Tampa and the fumblitis of his replacement, Luke McCown, who continues to impress through the air but unfortunately does one too many things wrong at inopportune times to hold down a regular job at starter. Earnest Graham is doing all he can in Jeff’s absence, but it wasn’t enough last week.

At Mile High, Jay Cutler was carving up the Kansas City defense, ably supported by Selvin Young who ran for 156 yards on only 17 carries. What is even more important is that Denver managed to keep a clean sheet for turnovers, something which has eluded the Texans for much of this season. A repeat of that performance is likely to see Denver take this one out, such is the propensity for Houston to give up the ball cheaply at times. Having said that, Sage Rosenfels appears to be a little more reliable than Matt Shaub in that regard, at least managing a clean pick sheet for last week.

This game is interesting on a number of levels, especially the match up between Gary Kubiak and his former mentor, Mike Shanahan. I can’t imagine there is much these two don’t know about each other after spending 11 seasons together at Denver. Keeping it fresh and unpredictable could be difficult for both sides.

Field match ups will include Andre Johnson versus Champ Bailey, a classic wide receiver versus corner back tussle. Champ has been highly regarded for many years now, but Andre has the size and speed to trouble him. Bailey will need to give him some latitude or risk getting burned deep if Johnson can get behind him. On the other side of the ball, Cutler is mobile and will use his feet to make plays. However, Houston defensive end, Mario Williams already has a franchise record 9.5 sacks for the season and will be keen to add to that tally and rattle Cutler’s cage a bit in the process. If Williams gets to Cutler early it could set the tone for the game. If he does not, that could also have a marked effect on the outcome. Whichever way it turns, it will be intriguing.

I like this game on paper. It looks like it could be a fun battle, and with the points total set at 47.5 it appears most pundits are expecting a free scoring affair. I have to say I concur. I think it could be open and loose and we could see a lot of points. I guess it will depend on who looks after the ball better and what happens if they don’t. A couple of pick sixes in either direction could see this one hit a big number.

Let’s forget about any “we’re still in the play off race” motivational clap trap. Neither of these teams has been good enough to see the post season, and barring a minor miracle that is the way things will play out. Still, it’s another fine Thursday night match up and could be fun to watch for the love of the game.

The Snake’s Bite: Houston has been pretty decent at home this season and I think they have a competitive score in them here. Denver has been pretty volatile. One minute they are scoring 41 points and looking prolific and the next they are giving that many up and looking sick. With Cutler healthy and mobile they should muster a score here too. They have been more consistent in recent weeks. I do like the over here, even though it’s big and I have to lean with the home team straight up. I am not keen on Denver when they have to pile into a bus on the road. They seem to get a little travel sick and I am fresh out of pills. Back the home team straight up.