Featured Video from Scott Reichel
The Denver Broncos will travel to Texas on Sunday to play the Houston Texans at 1:00 P.M ET on CBS. Houston currently leads the AFC South and holds the third seed in the AFC postseason picture. Denver, while not eliminated yet, has less than one-percent chance to make the postseason.
Rookie Drew Lock started his first game last weekend, picking up 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Lock threw two touchdowns, one interception, and had a passer rating of 84.5.
Over their last six meetings, both Houston and Denver have won three games apiece. Their most recent meeting last year ended with a 19-17 win for the Texans.
Broncos Energized by Lock
Denver is having a unique season this year. They’re on their third quarterback right now, as Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, and now Drew Lock have all started games. On top of that, the 4–8 Broncos have a first-year head coach, Vic Fangio, and they traded off their best wide receiver to San Francisco. That said, Lock is a rookie that plenty of people believe in so there is some upside. Lock won his first start in Week 13, throwing two touchdown passes in the first quarter to give Denver a 14–0 lead. The Broncos eventually won 23–20, with Lock completing 64.2 percent of his passes.
They are 4–8 but they’re technically still alive in the playoff race. A loss, however, will officially sink their ship. The Broncos need to win out to have a shot.
The team was clearly energized from Lock’s presence, so it’s not totally out of the cards. It would make for a great story and the Mizzou product proved in college he can sling the ball around. In 2017, he threw an FBS-best 44 touchdown passes, and that was in the SEC.
Texans O is Their Calling Card
Houston is having a solid season this year, using an elite offense and serviceable defense to win eight of their first 12 games. What’s more, they are getting hot at the right time; Houston has won four of their last five games, highlighted by wins against New England and Indianapolis. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Texans have a 94 percent chance to make the playoffs.
The team is lucky enough to have a franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson and an all-time great №1 receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. Both are ranked in the top five at their positions, per Pro Football Focus, making them the best QB-to-WR tandem in the entire NFL. Hopkins has the second-most receptions in the NFL with 86, while Watson is tied for the third-most passing touchdowns with 23.
Defensively, the Texans rank 17th in scoring defense, having allowed 271 points this season through 12 games (or 22.6 per game). They’re especially weak in the passing game, ranking 28th in pass defense and 27th in sack percentage. There isn’t a lot the defense excels in but they come up big in spots. In their first seven drives against New England last week, they allowed three points with an interception, a turnover on downs, and four forced punts.
- 2-5 ATS in their last 7 home games.
- 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games in Week 14.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0.
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games as a favorite.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as an underdog of 3.5-10.0.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog.
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games vs. AFC.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Houston has more promise than Denver but this spot is easy for seasoned bettors. You must take the points with the Broncos, and there's a bevy of good reasons to do so. The Texans have a below-average defense, though that's not the public perception. The unit is without their best playmaker until the end of the regular season (J.J. Watt) and their failure to cover as favorites falls on the defense. Houston has only covered once as a favorite this year but they're winning those games. The defense regularly allows too many points to cover the spread and oddsmakers won't make a change because the public still takes them. This game is no different; nine points is way too much when your defense allows 20-30 points every game. Additionally, the Broncos are re-energized with Drew Lock and their season is on the line. Denver with the points!
Prediction: Denver Broncos +9
Full-Game Total Pick
It was only one game, but the Denver Broncos are feeling good as a team knowing they have a young, talented quarterback at the helm. They scored 23 in their first game under Drew Lock and the Chargers' defense, at this point in the season, is playing better than Houston. Lock was tested in college, going into raucous atmospheres every week in the SEC; Houston's hometown crowd won't be an issue at all. Houston is going to score their points regardless, but this game goes over because Denver keeps it close. The total is low because Denver is thought of as a bad offense; this matchup makes them an average offense if not slightly above average. Hammer it. Houston wins 31-24.
Prediction: Over 41