Can you imagine if Matt Schaub's final home start under the never open roof of Reliant Stadium ended with not only a shocking win over the best team in the AFC, but also ended their chance to gain the number one overall pick? Is bearded Schaub capable of ignoring all the booing and leading his soon to be former team to a meaningless victory? Most likely not, but he does give them a better chance to win than Case Keenum.
Please Keenum fan boys, save me the tweets and emails, I know he's infallible in your eyes. Once you're done drying your eyes and wiping your nose, we can discuss this like grown men. Ready? Saying Schaub gives them a better chance to win right now does not mean that I think he's their future or even a good quarterback at this point. I'm also aware that several of his weapons are missing in action and that the offensive line hasn't played very well. Saying all that, Keenum still does a poor job of recognizing blitzes, going to his second or third option on a progression (often locks on to Andre Johnson and doesn't see wide open targets), and not setting his feet and instead drifting in the pocket which causes his throws to be less accurate.
Like in baseball when the game film gets around and pitchers notice that a hot young hitter has a hole in his swing, opposing defenses have figured out the tendencies and flaws of Keenum and he's starting to look like a confused, undrafted free-agent. Schaub is by no means a good quarterback anymore, but he is better than Case Keenum and gives the Texans a better chance to win right now. Though, winning this week is not what many of us want.
Six If By Air - Breaking News! The Broncos pass offense with Peyton Manning at quarterback is explosive. Actually, calling them explosive is a slight; their offense has been performing at an historic rate. Manning has thrown 47 touchdowns this season and will probably break Tom Brady's single season record of 50 at Reliant Stadium on Sunday. The future Hall of Fame quarterback also needs 536 passing yards to break the single season passing yards record that Drew Brees set in 2011. Unless the Broncos decide to sit their players next week, unlikely, Manning will easily break both records. Incredible for a player at age 37.
As a team, the Broncos have a chance at both the single season points and yards records. To break the offensive yards record (2011 Saints) they'll need to average 563 yards over their final two games. They haven't reached that number this season (high is 551 vs. Titans), but having the Texans and Raiders as their final two opponents makes breaking the record possible. For points, they need just 54 points over their final two games (Denver averages 38.2 points per game) to break the record set by the 2007 New England Patriots.
An Embarrassment of Riches - How does an opponent even go about putting together a defensive game plan? There are a few teams with two great corners capable of slowing down Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the outside, but then what do you do with Welker in the slot, Julius Thomas at tight end, and Knowshon Moreno coming out of the backfield? I've heard that Manning comes to the line with two or three plays that they might run and then picks one depending on the look of the coverage and what type of personnel the defense has on the field. Their receiving weapons force you out of your base package and into a nickel or dime look, but when Manning recognizes that, he'll audible to the run and kill you slowly with the run instead of quickly through the air. It's impossible to match up with them across the field in man to man, which the Texans play about 90% of the time. Wade Phillips will have to mix in some zone blitzes to give them a chance of slowing down Denver.
Their Defense Is Offensive - To put it simply, they can't stop anybody. The Broncos currently rank 24th in points allowed and 23rd in yards allowed and have given up 27 points or more in seven of their fourteen games this season. Since the league expanded to 26 teams for the 1970 season, only the 2006 Indianapolis Colts, 2009 New Orleans Saints and 2011 New York Giants have won the Super Bowl when ranked 20th or lower in points allowed. Their secondary is banged up but I don't think the Texans are capable of taking advantage of this weakness. Denver will be able to out score most of their opponents, but I think it will keep them from winning the big game.