Houston @ Denver
Power Rankings: Houston 25, Denver 12
When Houston has the ball:
Davis Mills started the season exactly how you'd expect -- he gained 6.5 yards per attempt and completed 62.2% of his passes, good for a 68.1 PFF grade, though he did have a fumble. Mills, now in his second season, has shown that he belongs in the NFL, but he's a bottom tier quarterback only capable of stealing wins and crushing your hopes at a top overall pick. Predictably, Mills relied on Brandin Cooks in their 20-20 tie to the Colts, targeting him 12 times. Cooks gained 82 yards on 7 catches. The only receiver who had more than 3 targets was running back Rex Burkhead. Nico Collins, a 3rd round draft pick out of Michigan from 2021, is the number 2 option and has received some training camp hype, but so far he hasn't done much in the NFL. The ground game saw Rex Burkhead, a 32 year old who has spent a lot his career playing speical teams, leading the way with 14 carries. Dameon Pierce, a rookie 4th rounder, had 11 carries. Neither was effective, which is partially due to a bad offensive line. LT Laremy Tunsil is the one sure thing along the offensive line, although I could certainly see the 23rd overall selection from 2019, RT Tytus Howard, turning into a solid player. The Broncos defensive line is led by Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory. Chubb hasn't lived up to expectations since being drafted 5th overall in 2018, but he did have a strong start to the season, earning a 93.7 PFF pass rush grade. Dre'Mont Jones, a tackle, is also productive at getting after the quarterback, but struggles against the run. DJ Jones, on the other hand, is a strong run stopper. All in all, it's a middle of the road defensive line. The linebacking core is less impressive after letting Alexander Johnson walk in free agency. They were hoping Josey Jewell would be able to fill the gap after missing almost all of 2021 with an injury, but he was out week 1 and is questionable this week. The secondary, however, is strong, led by a quality cornerback room in Patrick Surtain, Ronald Darby, and K'Waun Williams. The safety room took a massive hit when losing Justin Simmons to a thigh injury.
When the Broncos have the ball:
Russell Wilson suffered a brutal finger injury in 2021, and the result when he returned was not fun. I'm not overreacting from week 1, but I am just saying that bad play continued -- PFF charted him with two turnover worthy plays and a 54.0 grade. Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, which should make a decent 1-2 punch, had 7 targets each. The top receiver by targets was running back Javonte Williams, a play maker who makes good things happen when the ball is in his hands. The rumors from the Broncos beat is Williams will continue to be utilized as a receiver, something that can only help Wilson and the Broncos offense. The offensive line is led by LT Garrett Bolles and a bunch of mediocrity, although 2020 3rd rounder C Lloyd Cushenberry III has progressed nicely throughout his young career. The Texans have one of the worst defenses in football -- they are across the board bad in the front 7 and secondary. Edge rusher Jerry Hughes, now 33 years young, had been a solid player throughout his career and grabbed 4 pressures week 1. Derek Stingley Jr, the 3rd overall pick from this years draft, is someone to watch at corner, but since it's basically illegal to play corner in this league, the young guys tend to struggle. The Broncos should bounce back nicely, but 10 points is still 10 points.