Mile High Roundtable: Broncos at Texans | Week 14 | Predictions & Picks
Khalid Alshami (@KhalidHAlshami) 8-4: Game 2 will be very telling in the development of Drew Lock. Right now the team is riding high and the attitude is positive with Lock flashing in his first start and helping the Denver Broncos to a win. Defensively, the team Broncos continue to lose impact players to injury with Derek Wolfe on IR and Von Miller still on the mend from an MCL sprain. Kareem Jackson and Bradley Roby are going to be useful to their respective teams this week, although Jackson should have better insight as Denver has new offensive and defensive schemes this year after letting Roby walk. Offensively, Denver needs a more consistent game-plan, as the predictability of the scheme after the first quarter has cost the team numerous winnable games this season. Lock and Courtland Sutton already have shown a rapport, but this Sunday will be important for Lock to find Noah Fant to start building chemistry between the two rookies. In the end, Houston is a team battling for playoff position and Denver is looking for their young players to continue to flash.
Pick: Texans 27, Broncos 21
Josh Carney (@JCarney_Sports) 8-4: A loaded offense against a banged-up defense spells trouble for the Broncos. Yes, Lock's presence provided a spark last week against the Chargers, but going up against a quarterback in Deshaun Watson at the height of his powers, and a wide receivers room loaded top to bottom, I just don't see a way the Broncos' defense does enough in this one to slow down Watson and the Texans.
Pick: Texans 31, Broncos 20
Keith Cummings (@KeithC_NFL) 1-4: For Lady Luck to shine on the Broncos this coming Sunday, Denver will need to have Miller be a full-go by game time. On account of his bulky knee brace, he will at least be severely hindered in his mobility. Lock will be making his second pro start and he will play well enough to keep the Broncos close by tossing three scores. In the end, it’s not enough when facing Watson and Co.
Pick: Texans 31, Broncos 24
Carl Dumler (@CarlDumlerMHH) 5-7: Vegas has this game as the Texans being 9-point favorites. I don’t think it will be that much of a blowout. The Broncos are young on offense but showed some of that explosive ability this past Sunday and should be able to build on that this week. It would not shock me if this is the week the Broncos finally score 25 or more points. Denver is going to have to do just that in order to keep up with the Texans’ offense. Unfortunately, I do see a late fumble bounce in favor of the Texans and they score a late touchdown to take the lead. The Broncos end up scoring 27 but the Texans win.
Bold Prediction: Lock adds two more touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown to his resume.
Pick: Texans 30, Broncos 27
Thomas Hall (@ThomasHallNFL) 7-5: The Broncos have struggled mightily against good teams and quarterbacks who aren’t statues. They ran up against both against the Bills and embarrassment ensued, which is why it is hard to believe the Broncos can go on the road and beat the Texans with Deshaun Watson at quarterback, especially with all the injuries to the defense. The Texans win this game easily.
Pick: Texans 31, Broncos 13
Chad Jensen (@ChadNJensen) 5-7: When the Broncos inserted Brandon Allen as the starter, the spark it provided the offense lasted exactly six quarters. Lock's arrival offered the Broncos a similar spark but the question is — how long can he sustain it? The wherewithal of the player, after all, plays the biggest role in how well a team can capitalize on the spark provided by a QB change. The good news for Lock on this front is that even though he's going on the road in Game 2, it's against one of the worst defenses in the league statistically. The Texans are ranked anywhere from bottom-third to bottom-5 in the NFL in most major defensive categories, which improves Lock's prospects of finding some traction in a hostile environment. We're literally talking about the worst third-down defense in the league, and the second-worst red zone unit. Will OC Rich Scangarello show a little more trust in Lock, and better creativity and intestinal fortitude as a play-caller beyond the scripted portion of his game-plan? I'm dubious on both fronts but Lock brings the 'it' factor, which can override the conservative predilections of a coordinator. Unfortunately, with Miller banged up and Wolfe on injured reserve, I'm doubtful the Broncos will be able to stop the Texans' rushing attack, which could lead to a long day at the office defensively. Lock and Scangarello are going to have to abandon the training wheels and let the rookie wear his big-boy pants if the Broncos are going to hold serve with the high-flying Texans offense. Bottom line, Lock will bump his head, but look for the Broncos to shock the world and for the #LockSZN hype train to officially blast off into the stratosphere following a big road win against a playoff-caliber opponent.
Bold Prediction: This is the game Phillip Lindsay reminds everyone why he made the Pro Bowl as an undrafted rookie last year, going over the century mark rushing and putting two scores on the board himself.
Pick: Broncos 30, Texans 23
Trevor Judge (@TrevorJudge) 6-6: I have a feeling I may be the odd man out here, but I can see this being a trap game for the Texans. Yes, the Texans are 8-4 and they just beat the Patriots. Yes, this will be Lock’s first start on the road. But this Broncos team played with a lot of swagger in the first half against the Chargers. The team feels rejuvenated with Lock at the helm. The biggest issue this team has had this year is keeping the pedal down once they get a lead. If this game stays close, which it should, I can see Denver pulling off the upset on the road. Also, don’t forget the Texans play the Titans next week, who they lead by just one game in the standings. Houston could be looking ahead and discounting this game against the Broncos.
Pick: Broncos 23, Texans 20
Zack Kelberman (@KelbermanNFL) 5-7: Getting the Texans this week can work in Denver's favor, as Houston's coming off a statement win against the Patriots and may be feeling themselves too much — enough to possibly overlook the 4-8 Broncos. Regardless, all eyes will once again be on Lock, who's making his second start and likely will have more of the playbook at his disposal. Just like last week, however, wins and losses — stats, essentially — do not matter. It's how Lock progresses from series to series, down to down, pass to pass. If he can hang with Watson, it will count as a victory, even if the scoreboard shows otherwise.
Pick: Texans 22, Broncos 18
Nick Kendell (@NickKendellMHH) 6-6: The Lock Era has begun. After clutching victory from the jaws of defeat to win in a walk-off field goal, the Broncos look to win back-to-back games for the second time this season. However, things are about to get very difficult. Heading to Houston to play Watson and the AFC South-leading Texans, the Broncos defense along with a struggling group of cornerbacks will have to slow down DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller IV. Unlike last week where the Broncos got a lead and went into hyper-conservative ball control, the offense is going to likely have to open it up to have a chance. The issue? The offensive line and the pass weapons around the rookie quarterback just aren't good enough to play that kind of ball. The Texans are better and will show it on Sunday.
Pick: Texans 20, Broncos 17
Bob Morris (@BobMorrisSports) 8-4: While it was great to see Lock win his debut, now comes the hard part. How well does he fare against a legitimate playoff contender? The Texans are hitting their stride and have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Their offense ranks among the best in the NFL and the defense has improved since the start of the season. This won’t be a game in which the Broncos can afford to get conservative or rely too much on the defense — they’re going to have to take some chances on offense if they want to have a chance to win this game. If the Broncos can play with some fire, they might keep this one closer than people expect. But I don’t see a win happening here — Lock might become the Broncos’ quarterback of the future, but Watson is head and shoulders above him right now.
Pick: Texans 27, Broncos 17
Lance Sanderson (@SandersonMHH) 8-4: Though the Broncos were able to secure their own game-winning field goal against the Chargers last week, we still saw the team's ineptitude on the offensive side of the football. Lock passed the eye test in Week 13, even if the stat sheet was unspectacular. This week, Scangarello is going to have to take the training wheels off of everybody — including himself — if he wants to keep up with an explosive Texans team. Color me skeptical that he does that, and expect the Broncos to lose big on the road.
Pick: Texans 27, Broncos 13
Erick Trickel (@ErickTrickel) 6-6: Kareem Jackson is spilling the beans. Lock is the starting quarterback. The team is riding high. That's all great, but the Broncos are going on the road in an early game against a tough team. With the cornerbacks struggling, a banged-up group of pass rushers, and no Wolfe (their best defensive lineman) this team is set to really struggle on Sunday. While I think this game will be closer than I did a few weeks ago, I don't see Denver walking out with a win. I also fear Vic Fangio and company will get outcoached by Houston staff.
Pick: Texans 31, Broncos 24
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