Brock Osweiler makes his return to Denver in Week 7, looking to prove that the Broncos made a mistake in letting him go this past offseason. The quarterback took more money to sign with the Houston Texans, who visit the defending Super Bowl champs on “Monday Night Football.”
Going 5-2 as the Broncos’ starter last season, Osweiler signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Texans. Denver reportedly offered him $2 million less per season and $6 million less guaranteed overall. Through six games in the 2016 season, it appears that the Broncos made the right decision in choosing not to match Houston’s offer.
The Texans sit atop the AFC South at 4-2, but Osweiler has largely been a disappointment. With just 32 teams in the NFL, he doesn’t rank in the top 25 in passer rating (74.1), yards per game (234) or completion percentage (59 percent). He’s thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns, and only Ryan Fitzpatrick has been picked off more times.
Osweiler is hoping to build off a game that saw him put up his best numbers of the season. He led the Texans to a comeback victory over the Indianapolis Colts in overtime, posting a season-high 90.7 passer rating.
Making just over $500,000 this season, second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian has outperformed Osweiler. Leading the Broncos to a 4-2 record, he’s put together a respectable 92.4 passer rating, throwing seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
As Osweiler is coming off a strong performance, Siemian is hoping to bounce back after playing poorly in a Denver loss. Having missed the previous game with a shoulder injury, Siemian only threw for 230 yards on 50 attempts as the Broncos lost 21-13 to the San Diego Chargers.
The Broncos looked like the NFL’s best team over the first four weeks, winning with an elite defense and a quarterback that made very few mistakes. But Denver hasn’t played nearly as well on both sides of the ball in the last two weeks, and they’re now tied for first place in the AFC West.
Even though they are on a two-game losing streak and have the same record as the Texans, the Broncos are heavy favorites on Monday night. The betting line was once as low as seven points, but it’s moved up to 8.5 points at Las Vegas and online sportsbooks, via OddsShark. The over/under is down to 40.5.
Considering their opponent, Denver’s defense should return to its early-season form. The Broncos gave up 44 total points in their two defeats, but they did so against two of the NFL’s highest-scoring teams. Denver is the only team that’s held Matt Ryan to a passer rating of less than 100.0 in 2016, and they limited Philip Rivers to 178 passing yards.
Houston has faced three of the NFL’s top scoring defenses. In those games, the Texans have failed to score more than 19 points, averaging just 10.7 points per contest. The Broncos have surrendered 24 total points in their two contests against teams that rank in the bottom six in scoring, and only two teams score fewer points than Houston. Denver ranks eighth in the league overall, allowing 18 points per game.
Denver was without their starting quarterback in their first loss and without head coach Gary Kubiak in last week’s game. Returning home against probably the worst division leader in the NFL, the Broncos should show why they are one of the Super Bowl favorites.
Prediction: Denver over Houston, 23-13