NFL Week 16 Odds: Denver Broncos at Houston Texans
The Denver Broncos were stunned last week at home against San Diego, but it proved to not be all that costly yet. The Broncos will win the AFC West Division on Sunday with a victory over Houston and will clinch the top seed in the AFC with a win, Chiefs loss to Indianapolis and Patriots loss to Baltimore. Both very possible.
Denver, which had won its previous seven home games all by at least 10 points, was beaten 27-20. The Broncos gained 13 yards on the 13 plays they ran after taking a 10-3 lead late in the first quarter. That covered four drives during which they went three-and-out three times and picked up a total of one first down. Peyton Manning’s final numbers were decent — 27-for-41 for 289 yards and two touchdowns — but padded during desperation time.
The Broncos played that game without receiver Wes Welker because of a concussion and he still hasn’t been cleared. Before he can play in a game, Welker would have to be declared symptom-free by both the Broncos’ medical staff and a designated independent physician who has been approved by the NFL and the players’ association. Andre Caldwell, who got most of the snaps last week in Welker’s absence, is expected to be the team’s third receiver Sunday against the Houston Texans. Caldwell had six catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers.
Houston lost 25-3 at Indianapolis last week, its 12th straight loss. Case Keenum was 18 of 34 for 168 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Andre Johnson, who needed five catches for another 100-reception season, caught four balls for 18 yards. Ben Tate rushed 16 times for 72 yards and was fortunate not to lose a fumble. Houston also finished with 14 penalties, 10 in the first half.
Neither Keenum nor Tate will play in this game. Tate was placed on injured reserve with a rib injury and Keenum suffered ligament damage in his thumb. Keenum has completed a below-average 54.2 percent of his passes with nine touchdown passes against six interceptions while averaging a respectable 220.0 passing yards in his eight winless starts.
Matt Schaub, who was benched in favor of Keenum, will start in his place. Last time he faced the Broncos, Schaub threw four touchdown passes and one interception — but he also had Arian Foster and Owen Daniels. Tate played in 22 snaps that game as Foster’s backup.
On the other side of the ball, Texans interim coach Wade Phillips’ defense will try to prevent Manning from setting the single-season record for touchdown pass Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Manning has thrown 47 touchdown passes, three shy of the mark Tom Brady set in 2007. Brady broke Manning’s record of 49 touchdown passes set in 2004.
WAGERWEB ODDS: Broncos -10.5 (51.5)
BRONCOS NOTES: Have scored 535 points, 8th-most by team in season in NFL history (NE, 589)…QB PEYTON MANNING has passed for 4,811 yards, most ever through 1st 14 games of season. Manning’s 47 TD passes are 4th-most in single-season in NFL history. For career, Manning is 16-3 vs. Hou. with 44 TDs vs. 8 INTs & 108.5 rating…RB KNOWSHON MORENO (939) needs 61 rush yards to register 1st 1,000-yard rush season…Since 2012, WRs ERIC DECKER & DEMARYIUS THOMAS have 21 TD catches apiece, tied for most in AFC. Decker had 8 catches for 136 yards (17 avg.) in last game vs. Hou. WR ANDRE CALDWELL had career-best 2 TD rec. last week. WR WES WELKER had 8 catches for 131 yards (16.4 avg.) in Div. playoffs vs. Hou. (w/ NE on 1/13/13). TE JULIUS THOMAS (11) has most TD rec. by Broncos TE in season in franchise history. Den. is 1st team in NFL history to have 4 players score at least 10 TDs in same season…DE SHAUN PHILLIPS (10) needs 2 sacks to surpass career-best of 11.5 in ’06…LB VON MILLER attended Texas A&M.
TEXANS NOTES: QB CASE KEENUM has 80.7 passer rating in 4 career home starts…RB BEN TATE rushed for season-best 102 yards in last game at home. Needs rush TD to surpass career-high of 4 in 2011…WR ANDRE JOHNSON (99) needs catch to reach 100 receptions for 5th time in career. Johnson (10) is tied with HOFer JERRY RICE for most games with 10 catches for 150+ rec. yards in NFL history. For career, Johnson averages 6 receptions per game, best in NFL history (min. 100 games). Had 60-yard TD catch in last game vs. Broncos. WR DE ANDRE HOPKINS is averaging 25.6 yards per catch in Dec. (8 catches, 205 yards). Is 2nd among NFL rookies in receiving yards (759)… Rookie TE RYAN GRIFFIN had career-best in catches (6) & rec. yards (62) last week…Since 2012, DE J.J. WATT leads NFL w/ 30 sacks. Watt had 2.5 sacks in last game at Den…CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH has INT in 2 of past 3 games… LB BROOKS REED aims for 3rd straight game with sack. LB JOE MAYS spent 3 seasons w/ Den. (2010-12).
WAGERWEB TRENDS: Broncos are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. loss. Broncos are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game. Broncos are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games in December. Texans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. loss. Texans are 3-12 ATS in their last 15 games following a SU loss of more than 14 points. Texans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in December. Texans are 3-12 ATS in their last 15 games overall.