Breaking down the Broncos' Week 7 opponent: Houston Texans

Back under the primetime lights, the Broncos remain home for a Monday Night Football meeting with the Houston Texans.

Yes, it's Brock Osweiler's return to Denver, and Gary Kubiak will be pitted against his former team, but those storylines take a backseat to the fact the Broncos desperately need a W.

Two consecutive losses has decreased fan morale and increased inevitable criticism from talking-heads. At 4-2, the reigning Super Bowl champs are seen as mortal, no longer the class of the league.

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Can they get back on the right track? They'll first have to topple a Houston club that's feeling itself, fresh off a comeback victory over the Colts.

It won't be easy, but things rarely are when you reach the top. Here's the breakdown for Week 7:

Broncos offense vs. Texans defense

Much has been made of Trevor Siemian's performance -- or lack thereof -- against the Chargers. Without Gary Kubiak, the entire offense struggled mightily, scoring just one touchdown and never establishing drives. It was a disappointing night for Siemian, who was harassed by San Diego's pass rush despite Donald Stephenson and Virgil Green returning to the lineup. The offensive line was again terrible, allowing constant pressure on Siemian. They also opened no big holes for the running backs.

The Texans' defense, meanwhile, settled down in their win over the Colts, sacking Andrew Luck three times and picking him off once. The win came at a cost, however, as multiple defensive backs suffered injuries. Houston relies on the strength of its front-seven, which is still without superstar J.J. Watt but features Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, Brian Cushing, and Benardrick McKinney.

For the Broncos, they'll aim to exploit Houston's bottom-barrel run defense, which surrenders 126.3 yards-per-game, but they have to capitalize on matchup advantages -- something they haven't done the last two weeks. The Texans are down to their fourth-string cornerbacks, so there's no excuse for another lackluster outing from Siemian.

Broncos defense vs. Texans offense

You don't need me to tell you Denver's motivated to face Osweiler for the first time. That was obvious the moment he bolted in free agency, signing a massive $72 million contract. The Orange Crush wants nothing more than to exert its will on the struggling Osweiler. To do so, though, they'll need to shore up the middle of the defense, which was gashed by RBs Tevin Coleman and Melvin Gordon, respectively, in recent days. The Texans feature an explosive back in Lamar Miller, and must be aware of his presence at all times.

Osweiler hasn't gotten off to a great start in the Lone Star State, throwing as many TDs (eight) as INTs thus far. He's reportedly butted heads with his coach and heard the whispers from fans and media alike. Houston is 30th in points, 27th in yards, and 30th in passing yards. The one thing they do decently well is run the ball with Miller, who put up 149 yards and two touchdowns on Indy.

The game plan for Wade Phillips is contain the run and force Osweiler to beat you. If there's anyone who knows his tendencies, it's Phillips. And if there's anyone that won't single-handily beat you, it's Osweiler.

Key on Miller. Shut him down. Win the game. Bottom line.

Special teams

Joe DeCamillis' unit was excellent in San Diego, recovering a muffed kick, onside attempt, and fumbled ball. The only blemish came from kicker Brandon McManus, who missed one of his three field goal attempts.

The Texans boast one of the NFL's best (and oldest) punters in Shane Lechler, but don't scare opponents with their return game.

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