There's plenty on the line the next three weeks and it all gets started Sunday

Deshaun Watson should eat unless Vrabel bests Bill O'Brien again

Deshaun Watson was magical in the win. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Here's a Friday Stoots Six-Pack for you to sip on ahead of Sunday's big game.

Bounce back vs the rolling Titans

The Titans have been incredible for the better part of two months. They are 6-1 in the past seven games. They are well coached, don't make mistakes, and take advantage of mistakes. Ryan Tannehill has been fantastic taking over as a starter. He has played within himself and the offense while also taking necessary chances. There has been a fair amount of luck on their side too.

The Broncos whipped the Texans. They have bounced back from every loss with a win, but this is the first road game after a loss. Every one of those games has been close with the exception of the Falcons. It would stand to reason this game is a close one too.

The Titans haven't played a close game in a month, but they have been successful with Mariota on the bench. The Texans had trouble in Nashville last year, expect this one to be a close dog fight.

A new A.J. in the AFC South

​Andre Johnson was fantastic with some bad quarterbacks. A.J. Brown has finally come on late and been fantastic this season. The former Ole Miss Rebels pass catcher is coming off five catches for 153 yards and two scores. He is a chunk yardage player. If the Texans don't slow him down they are sunk. Tannehill trusts him more than anyone among their pass catchers. They don't throw it a ton if they don't have to so Brown will make the most of his opportunities.

The Henry train is hopefully pulling into the station

There might not be a running back playing better football than Derrick Henry right now. He's been incredible this season, and like last, he's been even better in the second half. The Titans have figured out their offensive line woes and Henry is a weapon unlike any in football right now. He's unique in that his power is his strength but he displays plenty of agility to his game too.

Henry has been on the injury report but expect him to play even if he isn't 100 percent. If he gets going and isn't slowed behind the line of scrimmage or directed away from his initial destination it is a big gain. The Texans miss far too many tackles and if they miss then against Henry that's going to be points not just first downs.

Missed the Mark...Andrews

Mark Andrews is a baller. He is one of the most dynamic tight ends and the best of the three tight ends the Ravens have. He was a third round pick in 2018. The Texans had two third round picks before he was selected.

The first pick went to Justin Reid. He has been a nice enough player and remember, the Texans still had Ryan Griffin when they were making those selections. They definitely needed some offensive line help, but judging by the fact they finished the draft with two tight ends, they liked a tight end or two as well.

Martinas Rankin was selected six picks before Mark Andrews.

I say all this to jump to a loosely-related point: the tight end position has been extremely hit and miss this season. Darren Fells has been a revelation, when Watson can find him. They're afterthoughts and safety valves, but rarely are focal points despite potential. When they hit though, it has been like found money.

Perhaps, though, I am being a little harsh. Around 600 yards and nine touchdowns far surpasses the output last season. On the other hand, with the wideout talent and Duke Johnson taking away attention, the tight ends feel like they should be more involved.

Oh, btw, Mark Andrews on the season: 58 catches, 759 yards, and eight touchdowns.

Watson worth trusting

Deshaun Watson doesn't get his ass kicked often. It just doesn't happen in his football career. The Titans have a nice enough defense, but Watson has a chance to light them up. Derek Carr and the paltry Raiders offense put up 21 points in the first half against the Titans last weekend.

Derek. Carr. This is Deshaun Watson we are talking about right now. Carr took advantage of a turnover for a quick score, hit a bomb after a good drive started, and handled a long drive before punching it in. They fell apart in the second but that' a Gruden and talent thing. No excuses for Watson and Bill O'Brien. This team will give up points, make sure you score them Sunday.

Mike Vrabel might be a better head coach than O'Brien

There is a chance Mike Vrabel is a better head coach than Bill O'Brien. He is working with less on offense, but more on defense this year. He had to make a quarterback change. Last year he schemed out a win over the Texans with a backup QB. He's a master motivator. The Titans play hard and don't make mistakes. That's Vrabel. O'Brien has yet win a challenge this year. He is 0-6, his worst mark since 2014. Vrabel is 3-1.

Vrabel's team started slow and has rebounded and not looked back. They haven't played a stinker in months. This will be an interesting couple of weeks with the former defensive coordinator for O'Brien matching wits on the headset.

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Game One Is Pivotal For Both Teams

ALWC Game 1 Preview: Astros vs. Twins

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

It might not have been pretty, and may not have met pre-season expectations, especially with all the injuries and headwinds along the way. Yet, the Astros' regular-season was enough to get them into the playoffs, and as we are likely to find out with this aptly-named Wild Card Round, all it takes is a ticket to the dance.

A losing record at the end of the first 60 is now a thing of the past. Everyone starts 0-0, needing to take two of three against their opponent to move forward into the Divisional Series. Here's a quick breakdown and some facts about Houston's first game against the Minnesota Twins:

Game Facts

When: Tuesday, 1:00 PM Central

Where: Target Field - Minneapolis, Minnesota

TV: ABC

Streaming: ESPN App

Pitching Matchup: Zack Greinke vs. Kenta Maeda

Series: Tied 0-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central) Location Pitching Matchup
Game 1 Tue 9/29, 1:00 PM Target Field, Minneapolis Greinke vs. Maeda
Game 2 Wed 9/30, 12:00 PM Target Field, Minneapolis TBD vs. Berrios+
Game 3* Thu 10/1, TBD Target Field, Minneapolis TBD vs. Pineda+

* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.

Game Storylines

Did Houston pack their postseason bats?

Over the last three years, the Astros have started the playoffs with wins in their first game, and it may be in part due to one key component: scoring first via home runs. In 2017, it was an Alex Bregman solo homer off of Chris Sale in the first inning to start the scoring against the Red Sox. In 2018, it was Bregman again, this time a solo shot in the fourth off of Corey Kluber of the Indians. In 2019, it was Jose Altuve with a two-run bomb against Tyler Glasnow as they'd go on to take game one against the Rays.

Can they make it four straight years? If so, they'll have to do it against another formidable pitcher in Kenta Maeda, who allowed just nine home runs in his eleven regular-season starts, only two of which were at Target Field. Also, those three games mentioned earlier were at Minute Maid Park, where the Astros had the support of their home crowd, along with the comfort of their own stadium. This year, they'll start on the road, and in the now-normal audience of cardboard cutouts. Having said that, if they can get their signature score-starting home run in the top of the first by one of their key bats, that could very well set the momentum in their favor to upset the Twins.

Which Greinke will we see?

On September 3rd, Zack Greinke went six innings while allowing three runs to the Rangers, still coming away with a win to improve him to 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA. That was his eighth start of the season, two of which he went six or more innings without allowing a single run, including an eight-inning gem at home against the Rockies.

In his final four starts after that, Greinke went 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA over that span, allowing four, five, three, and three earned runs, respectively, and unable to go more than six innings in any of them. That finished his year at 3-3 with a 4.03 ERA, not exactly riding a high into the postseason. So, can he hit the reset button and deal as he did in the early parts of the season? Or, will the Twins, who own the sixth-most homers as a team in 2020, find a wrinkle against him early that they can exploit? The answer to that, along with what run support his offense provides him, will be one of the game's deciding factors.

I don't need to tell anyone the obvious here; in a best-of-three series, taking the first game will be pivotal for both sides. Winning the first game and only needing one more is a tremendously more advantageous position to be in, instead of needing to win two straight to advance. It sets up for an entertaining series and set of matchups across the league. Get your popcorn ready.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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