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Quarterback Case Keenum #4 of the Denver Broncos celebrates a first down after a scramble against the Oakland Raiders at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on September 16, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Schlereth: Broncos need to stay ahead of chains to beat Texans

Quarterback Case Keenum #4 of the Denver Broncos celebrates a first down after a scramble against the Oakland Raiders at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on September 16, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

A victory at home against the Houston Texans on Sunday means the Denver Broncos kept themselves in front of the chains, Mark Schlereth said on Friday.

The “Schlereth and Evans” co-host said the Broncos need to keep “on schedule,” meaning converting on first and second downs, to keep J.J. Watt and company at bay.

“So many people talk about third downs being the most important down in football and they get all excited about third downs and conversion rates. You know what the best thing about third down is not being in it,” Schlereth said.

“Don’t get in third down. Convert on first and second down, and you don’t have to worry about third down.”

Not only does staying “ahead of the chains” keep the Broncos offense on track but it also means protecting quarterback Case Keenum from the Texans vicious pass rush.

“… If they don’t do that on a consistent basis and they’re in third down and long, they’re going to get throttled,” Schlereth said. “By throttled I mean they going to get beat up, their quarterback’s going to get beat up, there’s going to be turnovers, there’s going to be short fields for the Houston Texans.”

Schlereth reiterated what he said earlier this week, that the Broncos need to beware of the trio of Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Jadeveon Clowney.

“Third down and long, I’m telling you right now, the Broncos don’t have the personnel to block the Houston Texans in third-and-long,” Schlereth said. “You don’t have an answer for J.J. Watt. You don’t have an answer for Mercilus. You don’t have an answer for Jadeveon Clowney when it’s third down and seven-plus.

“If you get in a bunch of third down and seven-pluses, and I promise you will lose this football game.”

Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @JohnnyHart7.