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
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Johnson briefly exited Sunday's game against the Bills in the fourth quarter. He said after the game that he was "fine," but felt a "pop" in the ankle. ...
Oct 1 3:41PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. Foster is likely going to miss plenty of practice reps this week before being a game-time decision against the Cowboys on Sunday. Foster said he wasn't 100 percent in Week...
Oct 1 3:38PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (meniscus) has resumed jogging, and hopes to return in a "few... Sidelined since September 7, Clowney was given a 4-6 week timetable upon going down. That makes a "few weeks" attainable, but not ahead of schedule. The Clowney...
Sep 30 3:18PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Texans coach Bill O'Brien referred to Arian Foster (hamstring) on Monday as "day to... Foster himself acknowledged he wasn't 100 percent in Sunday's win over the Bills, managing six yards on eight carries. He'll likely continue to be limited in practice all...
Sep 29 4:20PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Following Sunday's win over the Bills, Arian Foster (hamstring) admitted he "just wasn't... Foster rushed eight times for six yards while playing on just 54.1 percent of the snaps, but did salvage his box score a bit with seven catches for 55 yards. The good news...
Sep 29 8:42AM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson said the ankle injury that briefly sidelined him Sunday is "fine." "I was more scared than anything because I felt a pop, so I went in and got checked," Johnson said. We never like to hear about pops, but Johnson did come back...
Sep 28 5:37PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught three passes for 28 yards in Week 4 against the Bills. He was targeted five times. Graham is on pace for just 36 catches and 380 yards this season, but should be more involved going forward now that he's healthy. He was used in...
Sep 28 5:25PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue had nine carries for nine yards in Week 4 against the Bills. With Arian Foster playing through a hamstring injury, Blue was used in a committee and finished with more carries. He added two catches for 16 yards on three targets. Blue...
Sep 28 5:22PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's Week 4 win over... Hopkins beat Corey Graham for a 35-yard touchdown at the end of the first half. He finished with just six targets despite Andre Johnson missing time with an ankle injury....
Sep 28 5:03PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster totaled 61 yards on 15 touches in Sunday's Week 4 win over Buffalo. Foster was held to six yards on eight carries, but was targeted 10 times by checkdown artist Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was clearly running at half-speed and looked sluggish...
Sep 28 4:07PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25-of-37 passes for 268 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions... Fitzpatrick's only notable play was a 35-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins at the end of the first half. He managed the Texans to a win without any help from Arian Foster or...
Sep 28 3:55PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson left Sunday's Week 4 game against the Bills with an ankle injury. Johnson came up lame on a pass in the fourth quarter and was taken to the locker room. He was able to jog off under his own power and later returned to the game. Johnson...
Sep 28 3:01PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, Arian Foster (hamstring) is moving with a slight limp... Per Breer, the Texans will "monitor his hamstring early in the game, determine his workload from there." It's similar to what was reported by beat writer Tania...
Sep 28 11:40AM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (hamstring) is active for Week 4 against the Bills. Foster will be available for a full workload after sitting out last week. He's Rotoworld's No. 12 running back against the Bills' top-five run defense. Inactive for the...
Sep 28 10:33AM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
According to the Houston Chronicle, Arian Foster will "definitely" play in Sunday's... The chronic hamstring issue Foster has been battling for two months is good to go. "Foster would't be active if he wasn't 100 percent. That means he'll get a full...
Sep 28 10:03AM Read More