Texans physically, mentally healthy for Denver

BY foxsports • September 20, 2012

The Texans couldn't be in better shape physically or mentally entering their game against the Denver Broncos.

Physically, all their starters are healthy.

Mentally, their confidence is sky high because of 20-point victories over Miami and Jacksonville that has given them a 2-0 record for the fourth time in six seasons.

The Texans have never been 3-0. They're 0-2 at Denver and 0-9 on the road against Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Those nine defeats were suffered at Indianapolis, of course.

From the time they entered the NFL in 2002 and realignment put them in a division with the Colts, the Texans have been abused by Manning. He has a 16-2 record against them.

But Manning hasn't played against the current Texans defense coached by Wade Phillips. While Phillips was elevating the defense from 30th to second last season, Manning was forced to watch from the sideline after undergoing neck surgery.

Manning has a 3-2 record against Phillips. They met three times when Phillips was the head coach at Buffalo and twice when Phillips was the defensive coordinator at San Diego.

Texans fans have been asking if Phillips might employ the same kind of strategy Atlanta used in its Monday night victory. The Falcons tried to fool Manning by not lining up in the right spots until right before the ball was snapped.

The Texans are ranked first in defense. It's doubtful Phillips will use the same strategy as the Falcons. Phillips will develop the kind of game plan he believes will work against Manning.

First and foremost, of course, is ball control by the offense. In their two victories, the Texans lead in time of possession 39:00 to 21:00. Last season, they led the league in time of possession.

The idea is to keep the defense fresh. When the defense is on the field, it plans to stop the running game, then get after Manning from all angles to disrupt his timing with his receivers by making him throw before he wants.

Whether the strategy works remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Phillips' strategy Sunday can't be any worse than the strategy the Texans have used against Manning in the past.

SERIES HISTORY: 4th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series 2-1, including 2-0 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Their last meeting was in 2010 when the Texans blew a 17-0 halftime lead and lost 24-23 on Tim Tebow's 6-yard touchdown run to conclude a game-winning, 76-yard drive