The Broncos play their first home game of the season on Sunday against the Texans, and Russell Wilson will make his home debut at Empower Field at Mile High. The team will look to right the ship in Week 2 and secure its first win of the year.
To get you ready for the big game, we rounded up score and spread predictions from NFL analysts. As a reminder, the Broncos are favored by 9.5 points.
Perhaps it's a Week 1 overreaction, but I'm just not seeing that massive a gap between the bottom of the league and the middle. The Texans will end up near the bottom if Davis Mills continues to misfire on outside throws, but the defense — buoyed by the ageless Jerry Hughes and a fun, young secondary — will keep Houston in games. There's a lot of projection happening to position the Broncos as one of the league's best teams despite an incredibly inexperienced coaching staff.
Projected score: Broncos 24, Texans 16
After an improbable opening-week loss in Seattle, the Broncos need to show they can "respond," in the words of quarterback Russell Wilson. What was once one of the best home-field advantages in the league has evaporated in recent years; the Broncos have had losing records at home in three of the past four seasons after going 6-2 or better at home in three of Peyton Manning's four seasons at Mile High. The good news is Wilson is 9-1 in home-openers in his career with 18 passing TDs and just three interceptions. And the Texans — coming off their first tie ever — have lost 12 of their past 13 non-divisional games. — Jeff Legwold
Moody's projected score: Broncos 31, Texans 14
Walder's projected score: Broncos 24, Texans 16
The Broncos are playing their home opener after losing Monday night to the Seahawks in a game they should have won. The Texans played well in tying the Colts last week, but this will be a bigger challenge on the road. I think they can hang around in this one, but the Broncos will win it late.
Projected score: Broncos 24, Texans 21
The Texans settled for a tie against the Colts after blowing that big lead at home in Week 1. The Broncos can settle into their home opener with the unsuccessful Wilson revenge trip behind them. Davis Mills faces another tricky defense and tends to not play well on the road. The Texans' run defense also will wilt during a long afternoon vs. Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon.
Projected score: Broncos 30, Texans 16
Broncos Coach Nathaniel Hackett has been raked over the coals this week for his decision to try for a record-setting 64-yard field goal rather than going for it on fourth down at the end of their loss to Seattle last week. … The Texans (0-0-1) fought valiantly to come away with a tie against the Colts in Week 1 and are now in first place in the A.F.C. South.
Pick: Texans +10
The Broncos look to rebound from a disappointing road loss at Seattle last week. Denver leads the all-time series against Houston 5-3 and has won three of the past four games against the Texans. New Denver quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown for 712 passing yards (356 per game), with six touchdowns and an interception for a 120 passer rating in his past two starts against Houston.
Projected score: Broncos 30, Texans 24
…The Broncos moved the ball well, racking up 433 total yards against the Seahawks. If Denver avoids fumbles at the goal line, it should crush a squad in rebuild mode.
Projected score: Broncos 27, Texans 20
Given the way Monday night unfolded, I have high, high hopes for Denver's Nathaniel Hackett era from an entertainment standpoint. If you're a Broncos fan looking for a bright spot, their offense moved the ball really well. The Broncos ranked fifth among all teams in Week 1 in EPA per drive. The offense had structure, and they schemed up a lot of easy throws for Russell Wilson. They're not going to fumble inside the opponents' 1-yard line multiple times every week—at least I don't think they are.
Pick: Texans +9.5