MATT HARAB

4 NFL games to watch this weekend not involving the Texans

The Jaguars hope to ride their defense against Dallas. Jacksonvillejaguars.com

There are certain games over the course of the season that you simply cannot lose if you want to seriously consider yourself contenders for the playoffs.  The Texans have one of those games against the Bills this weekend. If they are for real, they get back to .500 this weekend and ride a three-game winning streak into the biggest game of the season on the road against Jacksonville next week.  Make Josh Allen eat grass. I want to see J.J. Watt set up a tent and a campfire in the backfield this weekend. This front seven should DOMINATE Sunday in what is hopefully a statement game for the Texans at home. Here are four must watch games other than the Texans we must pay attention to on Sunday.  

Cowboys vs. Jaguars

Without a doubt, this game is a must watch if for no other reason than Houstonians want to see Dallas lose again. But in all honesty, the Cowboys have a stingy defense as the Texans discovered last week.  How does Jacksonville’s running game look? No Leonard Fournette. T.J. Yeldon is playing, but he’s banged up. They literally signed Jamaal Charles off the street this week. An area where Houston can really take advantage next week in Jacksonville is making Blake Bortles HAVE to throw the football. Put them into third and long situations by stopping the run. That’s how you can beat Jacksonville. We’ll see if Dallas can do that to them Sunday.

Ravens at Titans

The second team above the Texans right now is Tennessee.  I do not buy this squad at all as legitimate playoff contenders.  They have got to fall off the cliff at some point right? It could start this week against an angry flock of Ravens coming off a loss in overtime to Cleveland, a game where they failed to score a touchdown.. Houston doesn’t play the Titans again until Nov. 26, however the Titans free fall could take place over the next four weeks. This game against the Ravens, at the Chargers next week, at Dallas the following week and then home for New England.  Texans fans should be waving the purple flag this weekend high and proud.

Chargers at Browns

If you are being completely honest with yourself as a Texans fan, you are thinking Wild Card is PROBABLY the path into the playoffs. Jacksonville has an elite defense and although I cannot wait to see if they can pull the upset off next week, at this stage in the season the probable path into the postseason is as a five or six seed.  Both the Chargers and Browns are in that situation with Kansas City flying high, and the Bengals in first place in the AFC North. These are two teams right here who could be competing at the end of the year with Houston for a way into the playoffs. I am curious how they stack up against each other. Texans fans want Cleveland to win this game, as they have the worse record of the two and are the worse team in my opinion.

Chiefs at Patriots

I know you have work on Monday. I get it. But go in tired, call in sick, I don’t really care.  But WATCH THIS FOOTBALL GAME. His Highness Brady vs. the next biggest thing. This will be the best game of the weekend, and I hope it ends 38-35.  I don’t really care which way, but if you want to see two offenses to be jealous of as a Texans fan then watch. Butt in couch. Beer in hand.

Oh yea, and raise that beer to one more fact. The Texans after an 0-3 start are ABSOLUTELY still relevant.  Sunday’s don’t suck. Cheers.

 

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Jeremy Pena could have some big shoes to fill. Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images.

MLB and the MLBPA are embroiled in yet another labor dispute. The owners and players have both dug in their heels and refuse to budge. No end is in site for the lockout as Spring Training is drawing more and more near each passing day. So what does that mean for our 2022 Astros' season?

One sigh of relief came when Justin Verlander signed his new deal. Two years for $50 million dollars isn't bad at all. Factor in he's closer to my age than my son (coming off Tommy John surgery), and some may worry. Not me. He's the closest thing to Tom Brady MLB has seen since Nolan Ryan. Jim Crane and James Click did a great job bringing him back. His spot as the ace with the rest of the staff they have should help shore up the bullpen if one or two starters can make that transition. I know I said I didn't want him back a few months ago, but time has passed, and wounds have been healed.

When it comes to Carlos Correa, I'm growing more and more comfortable with the thought that he may not be back. I talked about his potential replacement months ago. Maybe the reason being is that the club loves Jeremy Peña at that same position, and Pedro Leon could also factor in. Plus, Peña is tearing the cover off the ball in the winter leagues.

At 24 years old, turning 25 in September, he'll be under team control for the foreseeable future. That truly depends on the new labor agreement. So does Correa's new contract. His contract will be largely based on the parameters set in the new labor agreement, since he didn't sign before the lockout took place. And now we know that contact will be negotiated by Correa's new agent, Scott Boras.

I'm all for the doom and gloom when it comes to an MLB labor issue because they've historically screwed over fans. The most notable and egregious was the '94 World Series being canceled. However, there's way too much money at stake right now. More money than ever to be exact. That said, it's precisely why there's a dispute. That, and the fact that the owners have always gotten over on fans and players, and the players are poised to get their just due.

When the season starts, the Astros should be contenders yet again. Don't look for them to come out the gate firing on all cylinders as this team may look a bit different. Guys may not be fully ready after a lockout and there will be some roster turnover. The bulk of the core will be here, ready, and healthy. Whether Correa is a part of that group remains to be seen. Am I concerned? Hell no! This team has enough to fill that void at least partially and will have either guy under team control for a while. Think about this upcoming season as the time you fixed up your older car. New tires, headlights restored, rims polished, inside made over, and a fresh coat of paint after the transmission rebuild. It still has over 150,000 miles on it, but you wouldn't trade it in for anything because it still runs well and has sentimental value. You know one day it'll give out and need to be put out to pasture, but you're holding on and riding until the wheels fall off. Enjoy Astro fans, because the ride will be over one day. Hopefully much later than sooner.

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