the Houston Texans play host to the Denver Broncos on Sunday (12/3/23) in a crucial AFC battle with playoff implications. In this article, find the latest Broncos vs. Texans odds and a prediction for the game. In addition, find our best bet, which is the Texans -3.
Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans Prediction
The Broncos’ turnaround from a 1-5 start to a now 6-5 record has been one of the best storylines in the NFL, particularly as two of those four wins came against Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. However, the betting market suggests that Denver’s run will come to an end this week against an upstart Texans team featuring outstanding rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud.
Stroud has exceeded even his staunchest supporters’ expectations this year with 19 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He ranks third in the NFL with 8.4 yards per attempt and sixth with a 100.8 passer rating. The Broncos will counter with a defense that still ranks dead last in the NFL in DVOA.
Denver’s defensive turnaround has been a key to its success, but I’m not totally sold on it being sustainable. 25% of all drives against Denver have ended in a turnover since Week 6, and while the Broncos have allowed just 15.7 points per game over that span, they rank 22nd in defensive success rate.
Since Week 6, the Broncos have also allowed the fifth-lowest touchdown rate in the red zone at 40%. But red-zone metrics are often noisy and not predictive for future outcomes. Ultimately, Denver is living and dying on turnovers and red-zone success, and that’s not a sustainable long-term approach.
The Broncos’ offense has cosmetically improved from last season, but Russell Wilson is still a limiting force for this offense. Wilson ranks fifth in EPA+CPOE in the first quarter of games when he can benefit from scripted drives, but his production drops precipitously past that point. Against a Houston defense that ranks top five in EPA against the run, he’ll have to create out of structure, and I’m doubtful he can do so.
Both of these teams are well on their way to beating preseason expectations and are firmly in the playoff hunt, but I see the Broncos as being a clear tier below the Texans at this point in time. With negative regression pending for their defense, a road matchup against an electric C.J. Stroud is hardly ideal. Bet on the Texans continuing their surge toward playoff contention.
Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans Prediction: Texans -3
Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans Best Odds
The Texans are currently home favorites of 3 points against the Broncos, and the spread has moved between 2.5 and 3.5 all week. 3 is a key number in football spreads, so keep that in mind when placing a wager. The total currently sits at 47.5 points, one of the week’s higher totals. These numbers would lead to a projected outcome of the Texans winning by a final score of about 25-22.
Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans Key Injuries
After a miserable 2022 season of injuries, the Broncos have mostly kept a clean bill of health in 2023. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy is listed as questionable with a groin injury, but it’s not expected to keep him out this week. Houston’s wideout Tank Dell has a calf injury, but he’s expected to play. Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn’s status needs to be monitored, as well.
Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans Key Matchups
In this meeting of AFC playoff hopefuls, there are some awesome talents on display. Let’s break down some of the key matchups that will help determine the winner of the game.
Javonte Williams Vs. Texans’ Run Defense
I have serious doubts about Russell Wilson’s ability to lead a consistent offense on the road against an underrated Texans defense that has gotten healthier in recent weeks. As a result, it will have to be a balanced offensive approach. Unfortunately, Javonte Williams has averaged under 4 YPC in four straight games and ranks just 35th out of 58 qualified running backs in yards after contact per attempt, according to PFF.
The Texans’ run defense has been stout all season, as they rank top five in defensive line yards and EPA against the run. DeMeco Ryans has helped improve this defense overall in his first year as head coach, but Houston excels against the run, particularly with linebacker Blake Cashman ranking 4th among 87 qualified linebackers in PFF run-defense grades.
Insane ending to the half… Blake Cashman gonna be a Pro Bowler huh pic.twitter.com/YDBdPXjRr7
— Will Parkinson (@Willpa11) November 26, 2023
C.J. Stroud vs. Broncos’ Secondary
The runaway favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year, C.J. Stroud has set the league on fire in his debut season. He’s been particularly potent on the deep ball, where he ranks fourth in PFF passing grades and second in yards per attempt. As Houston’s offensive line has improved in health in recent weeks, those deep balls have come more frequently.
Denver’s secondary has to be prepared for the likes of Tank Dell and Nico Collins, and I’m excited to see what the strategy is for elite defensive backs Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons. One area where the Texans could look to attack is with tight end Dalton Schultz, as the Broncos have allowed 71.2 receiving yards per game to tight ends, the most in the NFL.
This duo, my goodness: CJ Stroud to Tank Dell for a 40-yard TD.
There are MVP chants in Houston.pic.twitter.com/6b4G78Zbjh
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 19, 2023