Plenty of decisions to make for the Texans, maybe even one including J.J. Watt

Texans are AFC South champs despite ugly win. Now what to do for Week 17?

3 Headlines, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet ahead of the Texans regular season finale.

Winning ugly is better than losing pretty

The Texans won. Yes, it was ugly. Yes, it was a little disappointing. Yes, they probably should have blown out the Buccaneers.

A win is a win, even when it clinches the AFC South.

The Texans are AFC South champs for four of the past five seasons, and now four of the six and as my above tweet indicates, that's not bad.

Week 17 doesn't really matter for the Texans. They need to be ready for the 4-5 matchup and likely the Buffalo Bills.

The frustration is the same issues from games of the past popped up. Consistency on offense is seemingly dead. The in-game management is often times questionable, but has worked out a few times for Bill O'Brien. The defense is leaky. It doesn't feel championship quality. Well, it is AFC South champion quality. But there has to be more to the 2019 season than another banner.

Will Fuller's injury lingers yet again

Will Fuller is one of the most important players on this Texans team. He is also one of the most injured players. Fuller hasn't come close to playing a full season in his NFL career since his rookie year. This year soft tissue injuries have ruined his season. Yet again, he's hurt.

The team is so much better with him on the field. Everything is better. Specifically the passing game. That's a problem though. This offense shouldn't be built on success based off a speedy outside wide receiver being available. Bill O'Brien has to use the weapons he has better and so does Deshaun Watson. It is unacceptable for this offense to be so heavily reliant on Fuller's availability.

O'Brien's comments after the game were clear and this is as close to negative he comes at the podium about a player.

"He is a great guy and I love coaching him, but it is hard for him to stay healthy – that's the bottom line. Hopefully we can help him stay healthy because this team is a very good team when we have him in the lineup."

Trying to win games

The Texans will take the field Sunday knowing exactly what spot in the playoffs they are locked into. The Chiefs play in the early game and if they win, they will be locked into the third seed pushing the Texans to the fourth seed.

It is incredible to ask the Texans to prepare for a relaxed game, see the Chiefs accidentally lose, and then try to gear back up for the game and try to get the third seed.

So you either try to win the game that likely doesn't matter or you relax for a week. In a game that doesn't matter, Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil shouldn't play. Neither should DeAndre Hopkins. The numbers game gets funny, but the Texans could manage it.

Health ahead of the Bills should be the the most important thing for week 17.

Angelo Blockson...am I right?

​Texans defensive lineman Angelo Blackson has blocked a field goal in back to back weeks. The Texans have won both of those games by three points. You do the math.

The thing that has impressed me about both the blocks is Blackson's ability to find himself in the kicking lane. He's adjusted one of his big paws to be in the trajectory of what the kicker needs to make the field goal. Obviously he has to get that hand free too.

A few colleagues of mine, as well as myself, wondered why Blackson was given the contract he was in the offseason. He has played well and frankly those two blocks have been worth the price of his deal. Bill O'Brien called him a fabric player and it is hard to disagree considering his performance this year.

Can Watt come back? I ask again, can Watt come back

Bill O'Brien didn't feel like talking about J.J. Watt much today. Makes sense. The more mystery, the better. Make the Bills start thinking about Watt. About having to block him with their inexperienced right side of their line. Ultimately the subterfuge might not matter.

Brian Gaine worked here. He hired plenty of people in this building. He now works for the Bills. Gaine will know exactly how well Watt is when the game rolls around.

If Watt can help, he should play. If he can be re-injured seriously it should be up to Watt if he wants to play. You certainly wouldn't want to pass up the chance Watt could come back. There could be something this week with perhaps the activation of his 21-day window to practice.

I bet the Bills are licking their chops to face the Texans

The Bills can absolutely beat the Texans and likely should be favored when the two teams square off in the first weekend of January.

Buffalo brings a terrorizing defense that should smother a Texans passing attack which will be missing Will Fuller. Their offense is suspect, sure, but Josh Allen can exploit the Texans with the deep ball and the rushing attack can do enough. They have run the ball well too.

It is imperative for the Texans fan base's sanity for Houston to win this game. People will again question the whole operation with a loss, but a win would be a step in the right direction. It is the bare minimum for the Texans this year for the season to be considered even remotely a success.

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Houston looked much more like themselves

Astros return to form in win over Angels at home

Cristian Javier was impressive Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Hoping to avoid spiraling further out of control, the Astros turned the page from their disappointing road trip and the recent stretch of games. They hoped to start this new homestand on a good note, welcoming in the Angels for four games of this eight-game stint at Minute Maid Park.

Houston would get the much-needed win, with their offense coming alive early in the game to put up big innings, which they rode to the victory thanks in part to a great start by Cristian Javier.

Final Score: Astros 8, Angels 2

Astros' Record: 8-10, fifth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Alex Cobb (1-1)

Astros' offense starts clicking early

Houston would grab the early momentum, despite leaving the bases loaded in the first inning. They would get a leadoff double by Aledmys Diaz in the bottom of the second, followed by an RBI triple by Myles Straw to jump in front 1-0. They made it a three-run inning, with an RBI by Carlos Correa then a bases-loaded RBI-walk by Yuli Gurriel, though for consecutive innings would leave three runners stranded on base.

Correa drove in another in the bottom of the next inning, getting an RBI single to push the lead to four runs, then would come in on a two-run single by Alex Bregman, who made it 6-0. That set things up nicely for Cristian Javier, who was on the mound trying to take advantage of the opportunity for another start.

Javier has an electric start



Javier was electric over the first three innings, including getting eight of the first nine outs by strikeout while allowing only a walk and double during that span. He would have longer innings in the next two, but in both cases would keep the Angels off the board, finishing in line for the win. His final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 98 P.

Houston gets the much-needed win

Meanwhile, Houston's offense kept scoring. They pushed the lead two runs further over the fourth and fifth, getting a run in each with another RBI each for Straw and Bregman. With Javier's night done, Bryan Abreu was first out of the Astros bullpen, and despite allowing a controversial two-run home run to Albert Pujols, of all people, that looked to be a foul ball, got through the inning.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the seventh but would get just one out while hitting a batter and allowing a single before Dusty Baker brought in Brooks Raley to face the heavy left-handed part of the Angels lineup. Raley would get through it, sending things to the seventh-inning stretch with the six-run lead intact.

Raley would get another out before Joe Smith would finish that inning in the top of the eighth. Ryan Pressly, who has been starved for work lately with no save opportunities, would close things out in the ninth as Houston would start this series off with a win.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM start on Friday night. Andrew Heaney (1-1, 5.65 ERA) will be on the mound for the Angels, while Zack Greinke (2-1, 2.81 ERA) will look to repeat the success of his last start; an eight-inning shutout performance for the Astros.

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