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Week 3: Texans-Broncos matchup

The SportsXchange

Houston at Denver

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver - TV: CBS; DirecTV: 715

*TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

*Keys to the game: Texans RB Arian Foster is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry, but Houston has done an excellent job of staying committed to the ground game despite a lack of explosive plays - and Foster and Ben Tate continue to get the job done in the red zone. Foster and Tate have combined for 61 carries through two games and will continue to get their touches to help protect QB Mat Schaub from the Broncos' outstanding pass rush. Houston's defense has been setting the tone, allowing just 8.5 points and 196 yards per game. Granted, Denver poses a far different test than Miami or Jacksonville. QB Peyton Manning has already shown the ability to lead a highly efficient no-huddle attack. Look for Manning to rely on short drops and to get the ball out quickly against Houston's equally potent pass rush.

*Matchup to watch - Texans RT Derek Newton vs. Broncos OLB Von Miller: A seventh-round pick in 2011, Newton has taken over the starting job from free-agent departure Eric Winston. At 6-6, 318 pounds, Newton has excellent size and held his own when matched up against Miami's top pass rusher, Cam Wake, in the season opener. Miller ratchets up the testing grounds and will no doubt lead the Texans to provide help on passing downs. That only enhances the need for Foster to pick up positive yards on first and second down.

*Player spotlight - Texans RS Trindon Holliday: After averaging 21 yards on punt returns and 39.9 on kickoff returns during the offseason, Holliday hasn't produced any big plays on either unit through the first two regular-season games.

*Fast facts: Texans DE J.J. Watt has 1.5 sacks in each of the first two games of the season. ... Denver has won both previous meetings at home.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Traveling to Denver brings the added challenge of adjusting to the high altitude, which is magnified on the defensive end when trying to combat Peyton Manning's up-tempo attack. And the Texans' early-season struggles in the running game finally catch up to them.

*Our pick: Broncos 23-21
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