Posted on October 29, 2018, by Travis Pulver
There has been a theme that has carried over from one week to the next for the Houston Texans. Win or lose, Deshaun Watson is going to hit more than any starting quarterback should ever get hit. Now, it isn’t as bad during some weeks. But that is more because the opponent has a weak pass rush than anything else.
So—with the Denver Broncos bringing Von Miller and Bradley Chubb to town this week it isn’t hard to wonder one thing. Will Deshaun Watson be able to survive the game?
The Broncos are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to sacks. Houston is one of the best at giving them up. Sounds like a recipe for disaster as far as Watson and Houston’s offense is concerned.
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The Houston Texans have a good defense; that aspect of their game has not been in question. Teams have only scored two rushing touchdowns on them so far (2nd) and they are one of eleven teams allowing less than 100 yards on the ground a game (so far; 95.1 yards/game). Their pass defense isn’t bad either (13th; 240 yards/game allowed).
Phillip Lindsey will have a tough time gaining yards against the Houston front seven. But if Case Keenum can get on track with his receivers early, he could do some damage with the talent the Broncos have at receiver.
In recent weeks Houston’s running game has been coming on strong. While the passing game will miss Will Fuller, Keke Coutee may be an adequate fill-in but he has had trouble staying healthy. But overall, the offense is in good shape with one exception.
Deshaun Watson gets hit way too much.
His teammates have expressed an appreciation for his toughness and how he has soldiered on despite the injuries and the beatings he takes at the hands of defenders. But their appreciation will mean little if Von Miller or Bradley Chubb hit him so hard he can’t get back up.
When it comes to those two, and the Broncos front seven in general, that is entirely possible.
Denver will, of course, put as much pressure as they can on Watson to see if he can play through his injuries after getting hit one too many times. But the pressure could disappear quickly if Lamar Miller is able to break free for a few long runs. Denver’s defense has been getting gashed by lesser running backs this season—so, it is possible.
Bill O’ Brien seems to be leaning heavily on the running game of late. Luckily, it has been working. Against Denver’s 27th ranked run defense, it is easy to see him trying to get the most out of Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue this week.
Of course, Houston’s success on offense begins and ends with Watson. He’ll get his share of the workload; more than his share if the running game falters.
Since they will likely be leaning more on the run, Houston is not going to run up the score. Case Keenum and his stable of receivers are good enough to put up some points on Houston and make sure this one stays close.
Denver is favored by 2.5 points. But in the end, look for Houston to pull ahead in the fourth and win by four.