Watt's future and the newest closer you can trust in Houston

Could Watt return and what to make of the Bucs?

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

3 Headline, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet ahead of the last road game of the regular season for the Texans.

Basically AFC South champs

Bill O'Brien doesn't hold back with reporters


The Texans basically secured the AFC South and the fourth spot in the AFC side of the playoffs with their Sunday win. The Titans can even the season record but Houston has a stranglehold on tiebreakers even if the Titans take care of their business.

The Texans would have to lose to Tampa Bay and then lose to the Titans and then they'd be in danger of losing their playoff spot altogether.

So, essentially, the Texans will again be AFC South champs short of a massive failure at multiple levels.

That will mark O'Brien's fourth AFC South championship in six years at the helm of the organization. Since he was hired in 2014, he will have made the playoffs more than John Harbaugh and Mike Zimmer. He could have the same amount of first place finishes as Jason Garrett should the Cowboys hold onto the NFC East crown.

I say all that to say this: It doesn't matter if he doesn't win in the playoffs. Period. It is time for the Texans to win playoff games, plural. They also need to take care of their business these final two weeks should the Chiefs slip up and open up the three seed for them.

Film room pays off

Justin Reid on Sunday. Bradley Roby against the Patriots with an interception. Both touted they saw those plays coming on film the week leading up to the game.

Bill O'Brien downplayed the frequency of film helping noting the looks have to sometimes be right but he did tout his team's preparedness when it comes to studying film.

I will say this, when the Texans are on, they're on. The Titans had been scoring like crazy before the game against Houston and the Texans held them scoreless in the first half and to just 21 for the game. Outside of two final Patriots drive the defense did a good job again. Hopefully the film success continues for the Texans.

The Closer

DeAndre Hopkins was a monster in the clutch. In the fourth quarter he had four catches for 98 yards. The four catches went for 25 yards, 35 yards twice, and three yards. Up to that point he had just two catches for 21 yards.

Hopkins finds a way to get open in key moments and it seems like earlier Watson either missed him or really shied away from the heavy coverage. Obviously Hopkins and Fuller's return led to the open looks for Kenny Stills in the first half. Hopkins was the catalyst for the two scoring drives in the fourth. He is sensational.

How about Hyde?

He's a thousand yard rusher for the first time in his career. He's fit better for this offense and what Bill O'Brien wants in a back than anyone else in their time in my opinion. Really nice addition by the front office when they were in dire need of a player of Hyde's skill set.

I wrote a little more about Hyde Sunday.

Can Watt come back?

Bill O'Brien didn't rule it out.

"J.J. (Watt) is working very very hard. He's certainly made progress based on his work ethic and who he's working with in the training room. We will see how it goes."

That certainly isn't a no. Not a resounding yes either. Watt would likely need to practice some in the regular season so if it was going to be the case for him to return we may know shortly.

Meanwhile, T.J. Watt is close to replicating the production from his brother's first few seasons and big brother couldn't be happier as seen above.

I bet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are about out of steam

Chris Godwin left the Buccaneers win over the Lions with a hamstring injury. That comes one week after Mike Evans had his season ended via a hamstring as well. That leaves Tampa Bay without their top two pass catchers and their only players with over 500 yards receiving. Breshad Perriman just had his best game with the Buccaneers but he's now the number one basically with the injuries.

Jameis Winston leads the league in passing yards and is second in touchdowns but leads the league in interceptions by a wide margin. I have to imagine the turnovers will come when he doesn't have two premier wideouts to get the ball to on Saturday. Especially when Tampa could need to throw the ball a ton if they get behind.

Tampa has done a great job this season fighting to seven wins. The Texans have more than enough to make sure they don't get to eight this week.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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