Falcon Points

Best and worst case scenarios for the Texans in 2019

Bob Levey/Getty Images

It is common practice to try and predict a team's record before the season. It is generally an exercise in futility, as the reality most teams have a range of possibilities. The low range is very high for good teams like the Patriots. For bad teams like the Dolphins, the high range is pretty low.

So what about the Texans? Vegas has them at eight wins, which seems to be right in the middle of their range. The Texans are a high variance team. If everything goes right, they could match last year's 11 wins. If everything goes wrong, 5-11 is not out of the equation. So let's take a look at what could go right, wrong and everything in between.

1) What could go wrong

The schedule is brutal this year, but the good news is the rest of the division has the same problem, save two games. Still, the Texans enter the year seemingly behind the Colts, who knocked them out of the playoffs. In the low end scenario, the Colts dominate the division as Andrew Luck stays healthy, the Jaguars improve with Nick Foles and the Titans are decent enough to make life miserable on the Texans.

Now let's look at the potential pitfalls beyond that:

Lack of improvement in key areas: The Texans addressed their two biggest weaknesses in the off-season - offensive line and secondary - but did they really improve? There is no guarantee the draft picks will work out on the offensive line, and the only veteran addition was Matt Kalil, who has been hurt the past two seasons. Kalil was terrific early in his career, but has been shaky ever since. If he can rediscover his form, he is an upgrade, but expecting that or one of the rookies to excel? That's probably too much to ask. The secondary was a disaster last season. Again, pieces were shuffled, but will they really work? So if the Texans do not improve in this area, they will clearly go backward with a much tougher schedule.

Oh, and injuries: A bad offensive line almost got Deshaun Watson killed. It could happen again. The secondary will face much better quarterbacks this year. Just being the same means eight wins tops. If Watson gets hurt, and Will Fuller inevitably goes down again...They also got a healthy season from J.J. Watt last year. If they don't repeat that? Then five wins is definitely in play.

2) What could go right

The changes in the secondary and offensive line improves those units. Watson and his offensive weapons stay healthy, giving the team its best offensive production yet. If healthy all season, they have a chance to be explosive. Defensively, Watt has a monster year, the secondary shows improvement, and the Texans match up well with the tough competition on their schedule. That is a lot to go right, but it is certainly in the realm of possibility.

3) Somewhere in the middle

So what is the most likely scenario? Right where Vegas has them - eight wins. In reality, injuries are always an issue. The loss of a couple key producers could have a significant impact. They could be a better team than last year and still have a worse record. Bill O'Brien still has not proven he can coach a team at a high level. Does it happen in Year 6? Unlikely.

The good news is it should be a fun year. If everything goes right, the Texans could be very exciting. But a disaster or something in between is very much in play as well.

Football is almost here, and while the Texans enter the season with a lot of questions, there are some potentially good answers.

We will find out soon enough.

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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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