Peyton Manning: Veteran's Struggles Will Continue Against Houston Texans

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos runs off the field after their 27-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 17, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Peyton Manning will struggle mightily when the Denver Broncos welcome the Houston Texans to Mile High in Week 3.

Remember the first quarter of Denver's game against Atlanta on Monday night? Expect more of the same from the veteran signal-caller. It could be even worse if he doesn't get off to a better start.

Manning didn't just throw three picks against the Falcons. He made three awful decisions. They're completely uncharacteristic of him, and we haven't seen a large enough sample size to say, "This is the old Peyton."

He tore up Pittsburgh in Week 1 for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He was in command of the offense, and there was no question that he was healthy.

Then, Monday night happened. He did look better as the game progressed, but that wretched first quarter is hard to forget. He didn't have the same arm strength, and he looked more human than ever.

Houston will present the toughest challenge yet. It's the No. 1 total defense in the NFL, and that means something no matter who the Texans have played thus far. It's not like they've come out of nowhere; we expected this from Wade Phillips' crew.

The Texans haven't seen anything like Manning in their first two contests. Miami and Jacksonville's offenses are elementary, and Houston will face its first true test.

Manning almost brought his squad back on Monday night, but you have to wonder how he will fare against Houston's hard-hitting defense. Everyone witnessed his awful opening quarter, and I'm sure Houston has watched that tape countless times.

The Texans will be ready. Manning may be ready mentally, but his physical capabilities aren't a sure thing just yet.

This is the last game Manning needs to play after struggling in Week 2. Bouncing back against a weaker opponent would be easier, but Houston is one of the AFC's best squads.

Look for Manning to struggle as the Broncos attempt to prove themselves among the elite. Phillips will attack him with pressure from all angles, and the Houston secondary will be lurking for any mistakes.

Houston wins, Manning struggles and the questions surrounding his play get a little bit louder.