DENVER -- Numbers tell stories. Even some fibs. But there is no denying two trends crippling the Broncos. Their defense, strong as it is, needs to become less predictable. Being stubborn and strong served them well last season, and for three quarters each game this year it has not been an issue.
But first drives? Those have been a problem. And that's where we jump off on my Three Big Things as a final appetizer for the Monday night game.
1) Start me up
Lacking effort. Not physical enough. These are just some of the verbal Molotov cocktails lobbed in the Broncos direction following two straight uninspired losses. The defense sets the tone, mood and attitude for this team. Denver has allowed 108 points, good for sixth best in the NFL. The problem is that 41 have come in the first quarter -- which ranks sixth worst -- and 31 on first drives. Everyone who has ever worn a predominantly-orange jersey and swigged a Crush will know early if the Broncos are ready if they suffocate Houston on its first drive. I look for the Texans to go uptempo -- and for the Broncos to apply the brakes with varied looks from man and matchup zone.
2) Turn Shane Ray loose
I know. Von Miller is the Broncos best player. Something tells me Houston coach Bill O'Brien realizes this. They will slide coverage for a porous line to Miller's side. It will leave one-on-one matchups for Ray, who is quietly blossoming into a solid player in his sophomore season. Ray owns four sacks in four starts since DeMarcus Ware broke his right forearm. He should get two tonight.
3) Let down your hair, Trevor
Trevor Siemian possesses an intel processor for a brain. It's great for breaking down film. However, it can lead to robotic decisions in the game. With his left shoulder must healthier, yet still not 100 percent, Siemian must take chances down the field as soon as the safety sneaks down in run support. He completed one pass of more than 10 yards against the Chargers. A repeat of that tonight spells doom. The offense isn't good enough to win without Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas making significant contributions.
The Broncos health is decent going into the game. Russell Okung (concussion) will start at left tackle, barring something unforeseen. But Cody Latimer is no guarantee to play because of a concussion. He suffered the concussion against San Diego, but not on the hit when his helmet was knocked off. Latimer will be missed on special teams, making it imperative for Kayvon Webster to have a strong night in coverage. .... The Texans' struggles continue to revolve around their offensive line according to insiders. It sets up for a difficult night for Brock Osweiler.
Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and TheDenverChannel.com’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at Troy.Renck@kmgh.com.