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Browns come to Houston loaded with talent

Baker Mayfield is on a roll. John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Texans are the owners of the NFL's longest win streak and the Browns pose a legitimate threat to end it. What a weird sentence to say one year ago. 

1. The Texans have their hands full with the hottest rushing attack in football. Nick Chubb has the second most yards rushing the past four weeks and he's only played three games in that time. He has five total touchdowns. He's a monster. He's 15th in the league in rushing despite 16 total carries in his first 6 games. It's incredible the flashes he's shown early. Baker Mayfield knows what he brings to the table. 

"You talk about the run game being able to open up our throwing lanes and play action," Mayfield said. "He's been a huge help to that because teams have to swarm to the ball when he has it. He's not going to go down by just one guy tackling him. He's gonna break tackles. He's gonna have extra yardage after that first contact."

If they're going to slow down Chubb it will be incumbent on Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney and linebacker and Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt not overplaying some of the rushing downs. 

2. Baker Mayfield has been remarkably efficient in the Browns past two wins. He completed 85 percent and 73.1 percent of his passes and has thrown seven touchdowns. With the rushing attack, Mayfield hasn't had to put up big yardage numbers. He hasn't thrown an interception since trying to lead a huge comeback against the Chiefs. Efficient quarterbacks can hurt the Texans a lot so there is some concern Mayfield could get going and never look back. 

3. The Browns haven't allowed a sack in 125 snaps which is the longest current streak in the NFL. The Texans are sixth in sacks with 34 as a team. J.J. Watt has got hot and stayed hot with at least a sack in four straight games. Jadeveon Clowney has gotten to the quarterback in three straight. With Whitney Mercilus and Christian Covington getting going against the Titans the Browns sack streak should come to an end on Sunday.

4. The Steelers and the Chargers are the Sunday Night Football game. This means J.J. Watt's brothers Derek Watt, a Chargers fullback, and T.J. Watt, a Steelers linebacker, will face off. It will be the first time in Watt family history Derek has played against a brother. They, of course, can make contact with each other playing on opposite sides of the ball. 

"I haven't figured out yet what I'm cheering for or supposed to be looking for," J.J. Watt said. "Now they're on both sides. They're going against each other. I hope T.J. gets a couple sacks. I hope Derek gets a touchdown or a carry has some great blocks. I hope the game, I dunno, ends in a tie, I guess that's the best thing for everybody. It's probably good for us too."

He said he would be "talking a lot of (trash)" in the group text with his brothers. Watt isn't wrong about rooting for a tie either. A tie is as good as a loss for catching the Steelers in the AFC, but it doesn't help a ton in pushing the Chargers down the AFC standings. 

5. The Cowboys pulled off one of the most impressive wins of the season last night against the Saints. Their defense was on fire led by stud linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Professional football in Texas is LOADED at linebacker with the Cowboys crew and the Texans having Benardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham, and Dylan Cole (hopefully fully healthy soon). Dallas slowed the Saints offense as nobody else has come close to doing this season. Nothing seemed to work for New Orleans and the Dallas offense did just enough. If they ever started clicking on offense they'd be a viable Super Bowl contender in the NFC. 

6. Patrick Mahomes can retake the lead as potential NFL MVP on Sunday. Mahomes was the darling early but Drew Brees caught up as the Saints got hot. With their cooling off last night, it is a huge opportunity for Mahomes to earn back some favor with the voters. He just so happens to be facing the lowly Raiders in Oakland. Kansas City is at least a 14 point favorite or more. With Oakland struggling, and the Chiefs coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Rams, it seems like a terrible matchup for the Raiders and a good chance for "Showtime" to show his MVP stuff.

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Houston drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

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