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 drops the opener

Angels use big sixth inning to take opener from Astros

Houston's offense started hot, then went cold Monday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With a 2-1 series win under their belt to start this ten-game homestand, the Astros turned the page to a three-game set with the Angels on Monday night. Things started strong for Houston, building an early lead, but it would erode in the middle innings as the Angels would respond with a big sixth inning to take the opener.

Final Score: Angels 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 18-17, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Suarez (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (1-2)

Houston Builds an early lead

After a 1-2-3 top of the first by Luis Garcia, Houston would start the scoring in the bottom of the inning. Back-to-back walks set things off, setting up an RBI ground-rule double by Alex Bregman, giving them the 1-0 lead. Kyle Tucker lead the bottom of the second off with a double, then came around to score on an RBI single by Myles Straw, then Michael Brantley made it 3-0 with an RBI double later in the inning.

Los Angeles roars back to take the lead

Los Angeles trimmed the lead to two runs in the top of the fourth with an RBI double, but Houston was able to get that run back on another RBI by Straw in the bottom of the fifth. Things fell apart for Garcia in the top of the sixth, with back-to-back one-out solo homers trimming the lead to one run and ending his night there: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 92 P.

The Angels didn't stop there, getting two more runs to take the lead off of Brandon Bielak, who managed just one out while blowing the lead. Brooks Raley would enter to get the final out of the inning, then tried to keep the deficit at one run when he returned in the top of the seventh. It looked like things might unravel for him, allowing the first two batters to reach base on a walk and single, but he would battle back to strike out the next three straight to strand both.

Angels take the opener

Joe Smith took over in the top of the eighth, still 5-4, but would get two outs while allowing a double in his three batters before Houston moved on to Kent Emanuel, who finished the inning off. After another scoreless inning for Houston's offense, Emanuel remained in the game in the top of the ninth to keep a walk-off chance alive, and he would do so by erasing a walk to send the one-run game to the bottom half. The Astros wouldn't pull off a comeback, though, dropping the opener to Los Angeles.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Tuesday night. It shapes up to be an exciting pitching matchup, with Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.58 ERA) for Houston going up against the two-way star Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.41 ERA) for Los Angeles.

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