DENVER -- Even the commercial for the game hints of delicious animosity. ESPN turned to Third Eye Blind's "How's It Going to Be" to remind viewers of the Brock breakup with the Broncos. Osweiler left for Houston, his decision made easy by Houston's four-year, $72-million deal with $37 million guaranteed.
Cue the music:
"I wonder how it's going to be. ... When you don't know me. ... How's it going to be ... When you're sure I am not there. ... How's it going to be. ... When there's no one there to talk to. ... Between you and me. .. Cause I don't care."
Well then. Instead of this season serving as Brock to the Future. The Broncos go Brock to their Past. They are motivated to maul Osweiler.
"There's no ill will," linebacker Brandon Marshall said. "But we want to crush him. We want to kill him."
The stage is set. Let's look at the "Take 5" Keys to a Broncos victory against the Texans.
1) Start fast
The Broncos have allowed 31 points on first drives. They have permitted 41 in the first quarter? Big deal? Well yeah. They had yielded zero first quarter points through six games a year ago.
"We know what we have to do," safety T.J. Ward said. "People forget that we improve last year as the season went on. We can do that again."
Houston has scored 21 points in the first quarter this season. There's no reason the Broncos can't deliver a three-and-out to start this game.
2) Run the football
C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker need a breakout performance. The Texans allow 126 yards per game on the ground. If the Broncos can't run on them, then who can they run on? It starts with better communication. There should be no excuses when playing at home, where audibles are possible and much easier. The Broncos require a simple plan: rush 30 times for 135 yards, and they win. The last two weeks they have run a total of 40 times. That's a connect-the-dots-plan to defeat.
3) Push the ball down the field, Trevor
Trevor Siemian has a terrific arm. He was clocked at 88 miles per hour in high school across the diamond as a shortstop. When his Hail Mary fell flat in San Diego, it wasn't his arm strength, it was the fact that he was hurt. He was a compromised player with faulty mechanics. Talk to any Broncos player and they will tell you Siemian looks much healthier. There's no excuses. The Broncos should be able to run, bringing the safeties down, and forcing man coverage on the outside. Siemian has to hit at least two passes of more than 15 yards to change the dynamic of the sputtering offense. Emmanuel Sanders can and will win his matchup.
4) Control Lamar Miller
For all the talk of Osweiler, Lamar Miller has been Houston's best offensive player over the past few weeks. He's slippery with a good change of direction. Denver must be better up front with Sylvester Williams, Jared Crick and Derek Wolfe. Stopping the run in the trenches will allow defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to be more creative in his coverage plan. So Bradley Roby or a safety like Ward can cover the running back instead of the linebacker.
5) Hit Brock hard
Marshall watched Texans film and predicted the Broncos defense would "have a great week." Why? The Broncos know Osweiler's weaknesses. They are two-fold: he holds onto the ball too long and he can force it into coverage. Throw in a low arm slot and there should be clear goals for the Broncos defense: four sacks and three deflections.
RENCK'S PREDICTION: Broncos 27, Texans 14