Ahead of the Denver Broncos’ game against the Houston Texans, we asked John Crumpler of Texans Wire five questions about his team and Sunday’s showdown. Check out our questions and John’s answers below.
C.J. Stroud certainly looks like the real deal from a distance -- is he exactly what Houston needed to turn the franchise around?
It’s hard to characterize C.J. Stroud as anything less than a franchise quarterback through 11 games in Houston. He’s thrown for 3,266 yards, 19 touchdowns and 5 interceptions on 63.7% completion while already piloting Houston to double their wins (6) from the 2022 season. He’s accurate, poised, throws with anticipation and has shown incredible mobility compared to some of the concerns that circled him throughout the pre-draft process. Off the field, Stroud has turned into a leader in the locker room while becoming one of the team’s best at the podium. It doesn’t feel too early to say that he’s exactly what Houston needed if head coach DeMeco Ryans was going to find success.
How has former Bronco Andrew Beck looked for the Texans this season?
Andrew Beck has turned in a very strong 2023 performance for Texans thus far. He’s a staple of the team’s 21-personnel as their fullback and has been flexed outside to run routes on occasion as well. Beck has played 35.5% of the team’s offensive snaps while also contributing one rushing touchdown. The Houston running game has been up and down but overall he’s been a consistent piece — it’s also impossible to forget he returned a kickoff for a touchdown during the team’s Week 3 blowout of Jacksonville.
Does Houston have any notable weaknesses that Denver might be able to exploit?
Despite some hype entering the season about the talent in the secondary, the unit overall has struggled to stop opposing passers. Cornerback Derek Stingley has struggled to stay healthy while opposite side starter Steven Nelson has had a varied campaign, meanwhile safeties Jimmie Ward and Jalen Pitre have rarely been healthy to play together. All four are expected to be available on Sunday but there’s no hiding that Houston has allowed explosive offenses, whether that’s Trevor Lawrence or Baker Mayfield, to capitalize downfield. Throw in a linebacker group that has struggled in coverage and it’s no surprise that Houston has allowed the 8th most passing yards in the NFL. Russell Wilson may have an opportunity to shoulder a big win on Sunday.
Name an under-the-radar Texan who Broncos fans should be aware of this week
The temptation is to go towards an offensive player here on one of the league’s best units — however at this point, fans around the country are familiar with Houston’s cast of characters assisting their fantasy teams. One name to monitor is defensive end Jonathan Greenard. The fourth-year player from Florida has flown somewhat under the radar due to teammate Will Anderson and his high publicity draft status. However, he’s wreaked havoc with 41 pressures and 7 sacks so far this season while additionally serving as a major disruptor in the run game. Don’t underestimate the Houston defensive line.
What's your prediction for Sunday -- who wins and why?
Personally, I believe the Houston Texans are well positioned to win Sunday. They’ve played better at home and there’s no question this game serves as a must win. Offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik and Stroud may represent the most challenging offense that Denver has faced during their winning streak. Meanwhile, Coach Ryans is well positioned and notorious for strong defensive game-planning that could force Russell Wilson into a more prominent, uncomfortable role. Denver is due for negative regression in the overall turnover margin and it will be no surprise if that comes on Sunday. Houston wins 31-20.