The Houston Texans will continue their efforts to win the AFC South in Week 14 when they play host to the Denver Broncos, who are just hoping to play spoiler. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 8 at NRG Stadium in Houston. Fans in select markets can watch the game on CBS.
Oddsmakers list the Texans as 9-point favorites at home. There is also an over/under for the game of 41.5 points. Be sure to check out all of the Week 14 NFL betting odds.
Houston is riding high after last week’s 28-22 over the Patriots. The Texans have now won two in a row and four of their last five games, putting them at 8-4 heading down the stretch. Of course, their job is far from done. Houston only holds a 1-game lead over the Titans atop the AFC South with the Colts just two games back.
It just so happens that the Texans will face the Titans twice over the last three weeks of the season. Those games will likely decide the winner of the AFC South. However, that doesn’t mean the Texans can relax this week against the Broncos. Even if they stumble against the Titans, Houston needs to win as many games as possible to ensure at least a Wild Card spot just in case they don’t win the division. If the Texans can get to 10 wins, they should make the playoffs one way or another, making this a game they have to win.
As for the Broncos, they were finally on the winning side of a last-second field goal last week. At 4-8, Denver has lost three times on a late field goal. But last week against the Chargers, they were the team that moved the ball down the field in the final minute to set up a game-winning field goal.
Of course, the Broncos are surely out of the playoff picture, especially with their next two games coming on the road against division leaders. On the bright side, Denver is 4-4 since starting the year 0-4. They are also tied with the Chargers at 4-8, so a couple more wins late in the season can help them avoid finishing last in the AFC West, which would provide them with some consolation in an otherwise disappointing season.
This is a tough game to call because it feels like a classic trap game for the Texans. They are coming off a big win last week and have another big game next week against the Titans. However, only one of Denver’s wins this season has come against a team with a winning record. They’re also just 1-5 on the road and have suffered a couple of lopsided losses away from home. Even if the Texans start slow, I think they’ll be able to recover and win by double figures.
The biggest X-factor in this game is Denver quarterback Drew Lock, who made his NFL debut in last week’s win. At times, Lock certainly looked the part, showing plenty of arm talent, not to mention the mobility to avoid getting sacked. However, he also cooled off after throwing two touchdown passes to Courtland Sutton in the first quarter. In the end, Lock was 18 for 28 for just 134 yards and threw a costly interception in the second half.
There’s certainly every chance that Lock will be better in his second start, but the Broncos still need a steady running game to help out their young quarterback. The Denver rushing attack has been good but not great this season. Even against a subpar Houston run defense, I’m not sure I see the Broncos being able to dominate this game on the ground. They have a functional running game, but not one that’s going to take much pressure off Lock’s shoulders.
Meanwhile, I feel far more comfortable banking on the Houston offense. Deshaun Watson put on a clinic last week against a New England defense that is one of the best in the league. Despite his struggles a few weeks ago in Baltimore, Watson has 10 touchdown passes to just two interceptions over his last five games. There’s also no denying that Watson has an abundance of riches around in terms of his receivers and tight ends, not to mention a top-10 rushing attack.
I just don’t see the Denver defense being able to keep up with Watson and company over four quarters. To their credit, the Broncos are giving up just under 20 points per game, which is better than you’d expect from a 4-8 team. However, the Broncos are a little undermanned to keep up with Houston’s dynamic playmakers. Remember, this is the team that blew a 20-point lead against the Vikings a few weeks ago. Even with a lead, Denver’s defense still gave up explosive plays, which is something that could repeat itself this week.
If the Broncos were at home, I would feel better about them keeping this game close and at least beating the spread. But they’ve been far less reliable on the road. They’re also playing a quarterback with just one NFL start under his belt. There’s a lot that could go wrong for Denver in this game, which is why I feel comfortable laying down the points and taking Houston to cover.