If we told you in week four of the NFL season that one of the most sought-after games in Week 13 would be the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos, you'd laugh at us. Originally set for a later kick-off of about 4 PM or so, the NFL has opted to change (or flex) the Broncos and Texans game from a later-afternoon game, to one far earlier in the day.
The game will now kick-off at 1 PM ET, and while this may seem like something the NFL would do if it weren't a key matchup, as historically later games are more sought after, it turns out that isn't the case. At least not for Sunday afternoons. The NFL does better ratings around 1 PM ET, than do they around 4 PM ET.
So moving the game between the Texans and Broncos to an earlier window means they're hoping that more people tune in, and considering where they were this time eight weeks ago, that's quite surprising. The Texans were not looking good, and many expected that trend to continue throughout the season, especially with a rebuilt defense, a rookie quarterback, and a rookie head coach. Growing pains were expected.
Being on the verge of potentially taking the AFC South was not.
For the Broncos, they were a mess in Week 4, and many thought that either Russell Wilson, the Broncos quarterback or Sean Payton, the Broncos head coach, would have to go by the season's end, if not sooner.
Since the start of Week 4, the Texans and Broncos are a combined 10-4, with matching 5-2 records. Both teams are also watching their quarterbacks have big years. C.J. Stroud is everything the Texans had hoped for and more, while Wilson has returned to his Pro Bowl form, completing nearly 70% of his passes, with a TD-to-INT ratio of 19 to 4.
Both squads are by and far better than they were after the first month of the season, and with both the Texans and Broncos in the playoff race, this game will have huge implications for the rest of the season. If both teams head into Week 13 with a win, they'll be 7-4 and 6-5 respectively, with the Texans in first place in the AFC South, and the Broncos in the mix with the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bill and others.
But that's the big thing; if. The Texans have to get past the Jacksonville Jaguars to get that AFC South lead, and the Broncos have the Browns, who arguably have the best defense in the NFL right now. So getting to Week 13 with another win isn't guaranteed.