Signs the line is about to get right and Mercilus will stay hot off the edge

Could the offensive line be settling in for Texans?

A little Texans six pack for you on this Friday. The Texans play the Falcons on Sunday at NRG stadium.

Do your eyes deceive you?

Lookie there! The Texans are 8th overall in the advanced metric. The stats don't match the eye test right now though.

The Texans are still 31st in QB Sacked Percentage according to TeamRankings.com.

Not every hit or sack is created equal, and it isn't like Watson gets crushed every time someone gets to him. But, they add up. He still takes too many hits. There are positives though and there is a chance this improves.

ESPN's stats have Tytus Howard as the second-best tackle in football in the above metric. They have guard Max Scharping fourth in the same metric. Greg Mancz will not be back at right guard with his concussion. Zach Fulton will be back at right guard.

Laremy Tunsil has been extremely solid at left tackle since the first game as well.

There is hope the Texans figure this offensive line situation out. Atlanta is a full sack worse per game than last year's team and last year's team was putrid in rushing the passer. If the Texans can't keep Watson upright against Atlanta they may never keep him clean.

October encore?

Whitney Mercilus just came off his best four-game stretch of his entire career. The closest thing to what he did in September is the end of 2015 where he had five and a half sacks but certainly not as many forced fumbles and no interception.

This is what people thought Jadeveon Clowney could do on a regular basis. Mercilus is playing the right position and he has worked almost everyone he has come up against. This week Jake Matthews is the opponent for Mercilus. The son of Oilers legend Bruce Matthews has been decent this season checking in about average on the season according to Pro Football Foucs. He's allowed two sacks and 10 total hurries.

Mercilus is fifth in the NFL with five sacks. He has the most pass rushing snaps from the right side of a defense. This could be a solid opportunity to keep his hot start going.

Texans to honor McNair

The man who brought football back to Houston will be honored at halftime of Sunday's game. Robert C. McNair will see his name up in the Ring of Honor next to Andre Johnson. McNair has thankfully been remembered much better than some of the things he made headlines for in his final year or so.

McNair's actions spoke louder than his words and his actions said he loved Houston and his football team. It wasn't always easy for fans to get along with his patience as an owner, but there is no doubt the city of Houston is a much better place thanks to McNair.

Keke Coutee's chance to shine

Just three catches on seven targets for 18 yards. Not ideal for a player who was ready to breakout after a stop and start season last year. Coutee hasn't quite found his groove with Deshaun Watson and the time missed could be factoring into the issues.

With Kenny Stills recovering from some leg injuries Coutee could take over some of the workload at wideout. If he got clicking, and then Stills returned, the offense would be incredible. It will be interesting to see how the Texans account for Stills' absence. He and Coutee are different players so there has to be some small adjustment at least if Stills can't go.

New old guy on the block

He might be 38 but Mike Adams has gotten better with age. In fact, his best seasons came after the age of 33. It is hard to determine exactly what his role will be as the team's top three safeties are all healthy right now. It is never a bad idea to bring in reinforcements when the Falcons, Chiefs, and T.Y. Hilton coming up the next three weeks.

And I was all like Julioooooo haha

The above video was awesome until you realize Malcolm Butler and the Titans defense shutdown Julio Jones and ended his touchdown streak. Alas, he is still a monster scoring 12 touchdowns in his last 13 games and totaling up 1,182 yards.

I have no idea how the Texans plan to slow down Julio Jones. He might be too fast for Johnathan Joseph and he might be too experienced for Lonnie Johnson. Not to mention, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley are dangerous as well. Oh, and Austin Hooper can crush from the tight end spot.

This will be one of the toughest games all season for the secondary. If Romeo Crennel can't scheme something up the Texans could find themselves needing to win a shootout on Sunday.

Oh and if you don't get the reference in the title click here.

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Astros advance to ALCS. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

It was the longest scoreless game in Major League Baseball history, but in the end it was shortstop Jeremy Peña that sealed the win and the series for Houston.

The Houston Astros advanced to their sixth straight American League Championship Series, beating the Mariners 1-0 in the elimination Game Three in the American League Division Series. The lone run came on a homer by Peña in the top of the 18th inning.

It was a pitchers’ clinic between Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr. and Seattle’s George Kirby to start the game, and it became a clinic for a lengthy list of relievers that also joined in. Both starters made it through six innings, Kirby made it through seven, without giving up a single run.

In total, the Astros and Mariners had a combined 18 pitchers throw a ball in Game Three. Houston’s eight pitchers allowed only seven hits, 0 earned runs and had 22 strikeouts. Seattle’s 10 combined to give up only 11 hits and had 20 strikeouts, but Penn Murfee for the Mariners gave up the lone run.

Houston pitcher Luis Garcia was huge for the Astros. He came into the game in the 14th inning, and essentially was Houston’s second starter. Garcia gave up only two hits and got six strikeouts against the Mariners, including the final out on a line drive to Julio Rodriguez.

Both teams were able to get traffic on the bases throughout the game, particularly early but neither could capitalize, which was the story of the entire game.

The Astros arguably had the best chance to break the stalemate early in the second inning when they had Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker at second and third base. Seattle third baseman Eugenio Suárez did a great job scooping up a ball thrown by catcher Cal Raleigh when Tucker went to steal third base.

Raleigh’s throw was in the dirt and had it gotten past Suárez, it would have allowed Tucker to score on an error. Instead, he stayed at third and Kirby struck out Chas McCormick, which kept the game tied at 0.

McCullers got into a groove following the traffic by the Mariners in the second inning. He put together a strong performance, striking out seven batters and giving up only two hits on 88 pitches in Saturday’s game. Kirby was right behind McCullers with a strong performance of his own. He struck out five batters allowing six hits on 91 pitchers for the Mariners.

The relievers for both teams came into the game and continued the trend of shutout baseball. Dusty Baker went with Hector Neris and Rafael Montero after McCullers. Scott Servais went with Andrés Muñoz and Diego Castillo after Kirby in the seventh and eighth innings.

Neris, Montero and Muñoz were able to keep the scoreboard at 0. Castillo gave up a single to Gurriel and then hit Aledmys Díaz with a pitch. Díaz pinch hit for Trey Manchini. With runners at first and second and no outs, it allowed McCormick to bunt and move both runners to second and third.

Servais decided he had seen enough and went to Matt Brash. The decision for the skipper paid off as he struck out Christian Vázquez and Altuve, who had an abysmal outing against the Mariners in Game Three.

Looking ahead

When it comes to pitchers that did not see action against the Mariners, Baker did not use José Urquidy, who was the only pitcher left standing in the Astros bullpen. Houston did not use Cristian Javier either, who spent the game in the dugout.

Baker went with pitcher Hunter Brown in the 12th and 13th inning. Brown got another taste of postseason action after his debut in Game One. Brown allowed only one hit and also a strikeout in the high pressure situations.

Altuve’s struggles are a big concern heading into the ALCS. He was 0-for-16 against the Mariners in the ALDS, and he went 0-for-8 against Seattle in Game Three. His at-bats were brutal on Saturday. Not only could he not get a hit, but his swings seemed to be more like hacks most of the time.

It is obvious the Venezuela native is in a major slump, and while Baker should be confident his second baseman will eventually figure it out, the manager might need to tweak the lineup going forward and move Altuve down the batting order.

Alvarez, who was the hero for Houston in Games One and Two, went hitless in Game Three. For Astros fans, they will hope that it is an aberration and not the start of a slump.

Now the Astros will wait for the winner of the Cleveland Guardians and New York Yankees. Game One of the ALCS is Wednesday.

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