Texans-Broncos: Five matchups to watch

Texans-Broncos: Five matchups to watch
December 21, 2013, 11:15 am
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(USA Today Images)

The Texans (2-12) will take another crack at ending their long losing streak on Sunday but it won’t be easy. They’re hosting the Broncos (11-3), who are still playing for playoff positioning.

Here are five matchups to watch:

1. Peyton Manning vs. Mays and Sharpton
Manning is three touchdowns shy of tying Tom Brady’s single season touchdown record and there’s a really good chance he breaks that record on Sunday. What makes Manning so special is his ability to change plays at the line and prey on weaknesses in defenses. One of the biggest weaknesses in the Texans’ defense is their inside linebackers in coverage. Manning will do everything he can to get Joe Mays and Darryl Sharpton covering running backs and tight ends in space.

2. D.J. Swearinger vs. Julius Thomas
Julius Thomas has quickly turned into one of the best tight ends in football. The 6-5 Thomas has caught 54 balls this year and might be a favorite target of Manning’s on Sunday, especially since he’ll be going against a rookie. Swearinger won’t be the only player on Thomas Sunday but he’ll get him for a bulk of the afternoon.

3. Andre Johnson vs. Champ Bailey
Bailey has struggled to stay healthy this season. He’s played in just three games but the Pro Bowler will be back for this Sunday’s game. Bailey has been Pro Bowl corner for a long time but because of injuries, he isn’t that this year. But it should still be fun to see what he’s able to do against Johnson. Johnson comes into the game one catch shy of 100 for the season. When he gets there, he’ll be the second player in NFL history with five 100-catch seasons. He’s also 205 yards shy of 1,500. If he get there, he’ll be the first player to have four 100-catch, 1,500-yard seasons.

4. Johnathan Joseph vs. Demaryius Thomas
Joseph hurt his groin in the last game but he’s ready to go. And that’s good news for the Texans because even without Wes Welker, the Broncos have very good receivers and it starts with Thomas. Thomas has 78 catches for 1,194 yards and 11 touchdowns.

5. Matt Schaub vs. Denver defense
This will be Schaub’s first start since the Rams game on Oct. 13. It’s not just a chance for him to help the Texans get a win, it’s a chance for him to prove to the rest of the NFL that he can still play. Obviously things didn’t go well for Schaub early in the year but this is an audition for the other teams in the league for next season.

Texans - Team News
Brian Cushing - LB
Texans ILB Brian Cushing will miss at least one week with a knee injury. It's a blow to an already vulnerable Houston run defense, and a nice upgrade to Bishop Sankey's Week 8 matchup. Justin Tuggle and Mike Mohamed figure to start at inside...
Oct 22 8:32PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans are limiting Johnson's reps coming off Monday night's loss. He'll remain a WR2 for Week 8 against the Titans.
Oct 22 5:22PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans listed Foster as "not injury related," but he missed practice time last week with a groin issue. Foster has a matchup with the Titans' No. 22 ranked run...
Oct 22 5:15PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
According to HoustonTexans.com, there's a "decent chance" Jadeveon Clowney (knee)... "He feels good," coach Bill O'Brien said Monday. "Well see how it goes this week in practice. We'll be able to make a determination pretty soon about whether...
Oct 21 3:58PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught two passes for 24 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers. Graham was targeted three times, but dropped the other. It can be considered one of Graham's better statistical games of the season, which obviously means he's nowhere near...
Oct 20 11:31PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson caught five passes for 77 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins each saw a team-high nine targets. There was nothing special about Johnson's night. His biggest play was a 24-yard grab on a deep in route in...
Oct 20 11:25PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins caught six passes for 108 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Hopkins and Andre Johnson each saw a team-high nine targets. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw it to whichever receiver was working against embattled Steelers CB Cortez Allen. ...
Oct 20 11:16PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue rushed for 14 yards on five carries and caught an 11-yard touchdown in the Texans'... Blue was the vulture on the opening-drive 11-yard score after Arian Foster managed 59 rushing yards to get the Texans near the goal line. Foster is an every-down back,...
Oct 20 11:09PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21-of-32 passes for 262 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception... Fitzpatrick played well for much of the first half, leading the Texans on three consecutive scoring drives to open the game. It was a train wreck thereafter. One play...
Oct 20 10:56PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster rushed for 102 yards on 20 carries in the Texans' 30-23, Week 7 loss to the... Foster got off to a blazing start, rushing for 59 yards on the Texans' 94-yard opening touchdown drive, but was vultured by Alfred Blue for the 11-yard touchdown catch to...
Oct 20 10:47PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is inactive for Monday night's Week 7 game against the Steelers. Clowney's lateral agility wasn't where the Texans wanted it to be in pre-game warmups. He's been out since undergoing knee surgery after Week 1. Whitney Mercilus is...
Oct 20 6:09PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins (hand) is probable for Week 7. The Texans listed Hopkins on the injury report, but his status was never in doubt. He'll be a WR3 for Monday night against the Steelers.
Oct 18 2:54PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (groin) is probable for Monday night's game against the Steelers. Foster was limited on Thursday, but practiced in full the last two days. He should have another heavy workload against a Steelers defense that's allowing 4.4 yards per carry...
Oct 18 2:48PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) was upgraded to full in Saturday's practice and is listed as probable for... Johnson is good to go for Monday night's matchup with the Steelers. He's Rotoworld's No. 15 receiver this week.
Oct 18 2:39PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is listed as questionable for Monday night's game against... Clowney got in two limited practices this week, but said he still "can't run laterally." He could be held out in an attempt to get fully healthy for Week 8. If...
Oct 18 2:20PM Read More