Manning, Broncos not looking past lowly Texans
Dec. 21, 2013 at 4:17 p.m.
HOUSTON (AP) - Peyton Manning was still catching up on his film study. So he avoided the question when asked this week if he was surprised by Houston's stunning downfall.
While Manning may not be well-acquainted with the dreadful 2013 Texans, he is quite familiar with many terrible Houston teams he terrorized year after year while playing for the Indianapolis Colts.
Denver's quarterback is 16-3 with 44 touchdowns against the Texans, who enter today's game looking to snap a franchise-record 12-game skid. Now 37, Manning is having one of the best seasons by a quarterback in NFL history.
His 4,811 yards passing this year are the most in NFL history through 14 games, and his 47 touchdowns passes are fourth in league history and three away from Tom Brady's single-season NFL record set in 2007.
He shied away from whether this is the best he's ever played.
"I really feel I'm in the second chapter of my football career," Manning said. "Any comparison that I make may go back to last year. Obviously, I have a little more comfort with my surroundings, the coaches, the culture, my teammates ... I've really stopped making comparisons, really to before I was injured and then before I got to Denver."
Despite Houston's struggles, Manning certainly knows better than to take the Texans lightly, especially with playoff implications riding on this game. Denver has secured a spot in the postseason and will win the AFC West with a victory over Houston and a loss by Kansas City.
The Broncos get home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win and losses by both New England and Kansas City.
"I'm really trying to study the players they have now," Manning said. "They've had 10 games that have been one touchdown or less. All I know is we're facing a good defense. That's what I know."
The Texans have the NFL's worst record, but their defense is allowing the fourth-fewest yards in the league and is second in yards passing allowed per game.
Houston receiver Andre Johnson needs one catch to reach 100 receptions for the fifth time in his career. If he reaches the mark, it will tie him with Denver's Wes Welker for most 100-catch seasons.
He needs 205 yards to reach 1,500 yards receiving and become the first player in NFL history to have four seasons with at least 100 receptions and 1,500 yards receiving.