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This week 13 of the 2023 NFL season will be a critical week for multiple teams attempting to make a serious playoff push. Among the two teams looking to make the playoffs this postseason after serious doubt are two of the most surprising teams in the NFL in the Denver Broncos (6-5) and the Houston Texans (6-5). Both teams are looking to be serious contenders for the AFC playoff wild card spot but they will have to face each other on the field to determine who gets the upper hand.
It has not been a great start this season for the Broncos, who started with an overall record of 1-5. Their long went in the early portion of the season was a 31-28 road win over the winless Chicago Bears one week after giving up 70 points to the Miami Dolphins. Since the 19-8 road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos have won five consecutive games including a huge rematch when versus Kansas City. Denver is coming off a big 29-12 win at home versus the Cleveland Browns.
Not many football experts expected the Houston Texans to be a serious threat for the playoffs this season. This past April, the Texans had the second overall pick due to being one of the worst teams in the league last season. Despite a rookie head coach and a young rookie quarterback, the Texans have become a tough team in the AFC to go against. The Texans were on a three-game winning streak until they lost to their divisional rivals in the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-21 in a thriller this past weekend.
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This second half of the 2023 NFL season has been fantastic for Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson. He has already eclipsed his total number of touchdowns thrown from last season.
He hasn't been elite during the Broncos' five-game winning streak, but he has avoided key mistakes. Wilson hasn't thrown an interception during this five-game win streak.
Wilson has a chance to account for a huge game against this Houston Texans' defense that is still trying to find their identity. The Texans are ranked 27th in the league in passing yards allowed per game (252.5) behind a group of young and inexperienced defensive backs.
Two weeks ago, Wilson threw for 259 yards in the Broncos’ 21-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings. With a playoff-type atmosphere this Sunday, Wilson will be tasked to do more with the Broncos’ offense.
The offense for the Houston Texans has been tremendous under rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. While Stroud is performing at an MVP level, he has not gotten to where he is now without the support of an established receiver core.
Among the challenged receivers for the Texans is wide receiver Tank Dell, who leads the team in touchdowns accounted for with seven. He is among the three pass-catchers for Houston who have accounted for five receiving touchdowns.
Houston has a chance to do some damage in the passing game as Denver is ranked 22nd in the league in passing yards allowed per game (233). The Broncos have been more efficient in the past few weeks against defending against the passing game. That is mostly because the Broncos haven't played a passing offense that is highly efficient.
The Houston Texans are coming into this game with a much more efficient offense than the Denver Broncos. Houston is ranked 10th in the league in points per game (23.5), six in total yards per game (374.9), and second in passing yards per game (276.2).
The scariest thing about this Texans offense is that it is bound to get better as the young players continue to develop on the field and through the offseason. They will have a chance to develop even more this week as they take on a Denver Broncos defense that has given up 70 points in a game at one point in the season. Granted, the defense has improved significantly since then, but that feeling and the weakness still lingers.
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What: Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
When: Sunday, December 1, 1:00 PM
How to Watch: CBS, YouTube TV, NFL Network
Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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