Perhaps the most important thing that the Broncos have been doing of late is avoiding turnovers. Despite failing to adhere to that initiative, the Denver Broncos were one last gasp throw away from walking out of Houston with a win.
At the end of the day, that pass would be intercepted, putting a nail in the Broncos’ in a 22-17 loss to the upstart Houston Texans. There is a lot more to go over in this one, so let’s look at the game and what the result does to impact the Broncos’ playoff chances this year.
Not the Same Old Texans
This was a game that the Broncos played from behind almost from the start. Let’s make one thing clear: the Texans are not the team everyone thought they would be shortly after drafting Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud second overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.
They are more than fiery and competitive; they have a real chance at making the playoffs as a wild card team. The defense is fast and energetic, the offense can run the ball when necessary but is more adept at gunslinging with the best of them.
Unsung heroes at receiver like Tank Dell and Nico Collins continue to turn in exceptional performances (the latter had 9 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown). Stroud has carved himself more than a little MVP buzz and could be a strong candidate if the Texans make the playoffs. For now, they escape with a pivotal win while the Broncos figure out what’s next.
Broncos were 0-11 on third down against the Texans👀
Defense getting hot at the right time 🔥 pic.twitter.com/iQ4isNlm6s
— Clutch City Entertainment (@ClutchCityENTX) December 4, 2023
What Happened in Houston?
The Broncos came out looking flat and that continued on for quite a while. The Texans weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire partially due to the fact that the Broncos defense has become one of the best units in the league over the last month and a half.
Russell Wilson showed a little life late in the third quarter, hitting Courtland Sutton on a 45-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 16-10. He added a run early in the fourth but couldn’t find enough magic to finish the comeback, falling short with an interception in the end zone with just seconds remaining.
In the end, the biggest issue in Houston was the turnovers. Wilson, who had been solid over the last six weeks, threw a trio of interceptions. You have to be an exceptional team to overcome that kind of turnover margin and the Broncos are just not on that level. He’s been largely good this year, with just four interceptions entering the game.
Pass Yards today
Broncos 1 pic.twitter.com/sE5wAI1cL3
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) December 3, 2023
The Rest of the Schedule
While the loss hurts, sending the Broncos to 6-6 and putting them just outside of the playoff bubble, there is one silver lining. The schedule is among one of the easiest in the NFL, a prime opportunity for the Broncos to secure five more potential wins.
They get the Chargers next in Los Angeles, a team that has all the talent in the world but can’t get out of its own way. They also have a home game against the Chargers on New Year’s Eve, one that could have potentially massive playoff implications. They also have games against the Patriots (who can’t score) and the Raiders (who are the Raiders). The one tough game on the schedule is a trip to Detroit in two weeks to take on the 9-3 Lions.
The schedule could not be better for the situation. If the Broncos continue to play at the level they have been playing at the previous five weeks, this could be the perfect recipe for a playoff run. Winning even four of the final five would put them at 10-7, which may be good enough to land a wild card spot.
How are the Playoff Chances?
Speaking of the wild card, how do the Broncos look after this tough loss on the road? As of right now, the Broncos are one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, and Texans, all of whom are 7-5. The Texans, of course, hold a tie-breaker over the Broncos but the Broncos hold a tie-breaker over the Browns.
The race for the three wild card spots is also very congested. The Buffalo Bills are also 6-6. The Cincinnati Bengals are 5-6, though being without Joe Burrow may have ended their season. The Broncos will need to remain strong to keep pace with the teams ahead of them and distance themselves from the ones below.
In the end, the loss to the Texans is a big one but maybe not. The Broncos destiny is very likely in their own hands right now. The Steelers and Browns are coming off of tough losses, the latter being extremely banged up. If they win four of their last five, the Broncos could find themselves as either the sixth or seventh seed.
Check out this Colorado NFL betting guide if you want to place a bet on the Broncos next game.