MATT HARAB

Four NFL games (other than the Texans) for Houston fans to keep an eye on

Andrew Luck finally returns to the field. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Football season is upon on us and it’s about darn time. Living in the humidity of Houston the “dog-days of summer” is definitely something I’m happy to see pass us by.  I’m ready to sit on my couch and do nothing but watch football on Sundays, while making fun of my family shoveling snow back east.

There are many reasons to be excited about the Texans this year, exhibit A being DeShaun Watson. The 61% completion, 1,699 yards, 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions while holding a quarterback rating of 103.0 in just 7 games last year before the injury. The 12 touchdowns thrown against the four playoff teams he faced last year.  That was the trailer for what is hopefully the very good movie that is DeShaun Watson’s long career in Houston. I know you’re going to watch the Texans game this week but here are four other games you need to keep your eye on.

Bengals at Colts

Andrew Luck’s best season was in 2014 when he threw for 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns.   Will he get back to that form? That is one of the many fascinating questions that face the 2018 NFL season, another one being of course is DeShaun Watson the real deal?  Two quarterbacks in the same division who have shown us flashes of brilliance in their careers. Two quarterbacks that also have us thinking, is the injury bug going to haunt them for as long as they play in the league?  The Colts have made an effort this past offseason to keep Andrew Luck upright and give his shoulder a chance to relive the glory days Indy fans would love to see return. This is a franchise used to good quarterback play, this is a team historically that has given the Texans fits. Right now it is thought to be Jacksonville or Houston’s division, according to Vegas.  The Jags are +165 and Houston is +195 to win the South, however the Colts might be the sneaky “best bet.” They are the underdog at +550 odds. Sunday we get our first look at the rejuvenated Andrew Luck.

Jags at Giants

Not as easy test for Jacksonville right off the bat. This is the scariest defense in football by a long shot, and one thing to keep an eye on as a Texan fan is how the offensive line for New York handles the front seven for Jacksonville. New York, just like Houston, struggled protecting the quarterback last year and paving consistent holes for the running game. Jacksonville was the only team in the NFL last year to not give up 3,000 total passing yards on the season; they averaged 169 passing yards given up through the air.  The second lowest, Minnesota, gave up 192. That is a big difference from the top team to the second team, and a lot of that had to do with disrupting the quarterback. They also were second in the league in sacks last year. Watch and see how the Giants offensive line handles the pressure, because New York and Houston have similar struggles in that department.

Titans @ Dolphins

I’ll obviously list all the divisional opponent games Week 1. Tennessee's offense took a step back last year, Marcus Mariota in particular.  I think Miami will be horrible this year, and even decent teams beat up on horrible teams. If Tennessee hopes to compete this year, this is a game they win by 10 points even if it is on the road. We’ll get a good look here at possibly two bad teams.  If there is a blow out in this game, the Texans will know if there is competition in Nashville.

Chiefs @ Chargers

The one other division in the AFC that I think is very much up for grabs is the AFC West.  The goal is to make the playoffs this year and move past the first round for Houston. These are two legitimate foes that could stand in their way.  Will Patrick Mahomes’ first year be like DeShaun Watson’s? No, but he is a gunslinger with weapons and a brilliant offensive mind for a head coach in Andy Reid. The Chargers have at least one stud at every positional level on both sides of the ball.  These two teams will compete for the division title out west.

 

What did week 10 in the NFL tell us about the Texans?

Week 10 results that mean something to the Texans

Deshaun Watson led the Texans in rushing. Steven Ryan/Getty Images

3 Headlines, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet after the Texans bye week. What week 10 results told us about the Texans

Lamar Jackson another clear hurdle in AFC

Lamar Jackson was perfect on Sunday. Yes, it was against the Bengals, but perfection should never be denied.

The ultimate hurdle in the AFC was Tom Brady. You almost always have to go through New England if you want to play in the Super Bowl. This year began with the added challenge of the MVP Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs.

Well, sub Mahomes out for Lamar Jackson and those nasty Ravens. The Texans will likely need to go through Baltimore or New England for their chance at a AFC Championship game.

The timing of course is fun with the Ravens hosting the Texans this weekend. It is one of the best showdowns left on the NFL schedule as Deshaun Watson clashes with another MVP candidate, and likely leader for the award.

Is the NFL sure they can't put this on Sunday night football?

Tennessee isn't going away

The Titans surprised the NFL, and Patrick Mahomes, pulling off one of the many upsets on Sunday.

They have a weapon that few in the NFL possess in Derrick Henry who was a monster in the second half of the season last year. There is little reason to think he won't be a force down the stretch for the Titans again.

Ryan Tannehill has breathed life into a Titans team that looked to be headed nowhere earlier in the year. The Titans have four AFC South games left, including both of their games with the Texans. They aren't going to lose all of those and they're a threat to win them all too.

Their offensive line is shaky as it has been in a long time. Their defense is banged up but their bye week hits this week so they should get a little healthier. They have enough to annoy any good team, and as evidenced on Sunday, beat them. Tennessee might not make the playoffs, but they can keep someone else from making the playoffs.

Colts sunk with Hoyer as quarterback

This isn't Hoyer's fault. Not by a long shot. The Colts are just very limited with him and any mistakes get magnified. The Dolphins are playing their asses off but they don't have the talent that should hold offenses to 12 points.

They also have a flawed kicking game right now. Their defense is solid, very solid in fact, but if they can't put up points they will be in trouble.

Jacoby Brissett coming back is a must for them to stay in the hunt in the AFC. If he gets banged up at all, or isn't 100 percent, the Colts are not a danger to make the playoffs.

Do you think the Rams regret paying Jared Goff?

Jared Goff has the worst contract in the NFL. I am sure of it. The Rams rushed to pay a guy Sean McVay propped up after they rushed to pay their running back. The only guy they've paid on schedule and had it make sense was Aaron Donald and they played hard ball with him.

Goff has regressed and so has the whole Rams offense. They scored zero offensive points coming out of a bye. I get the Steelers have had some success on defense but that's a joke for what should be a top offense. Goff is a huge problem right now and so is Gurley. They might be saving Gurley for later in the year but those games might be meaningless.

Goff had shown very little that was extremely unique. Sure, he made some big throws and had a lot of success but there were a lot of plays most quarterbacks can make. If you are going to make a player the highest paid in the league at his position, make sure he does something other players can't do.

That's where Deshaun Watson comes in. He is special, regularly makes plays only he can make, or maybe one or other guy. Watson will likely head to the table this offseason to talk about beating Goff's deal. He will be worth it, or close to it, unlike Goff.

Do you think the Texans regret not paying Jadeveon Clowney?

I believe the answer is no.

Do they perhaps regret not paying him for one year and getting one last season out of him?

Sure. Easy to say now. He was a monster on Monday against the 49ers. The entire league was watching, including Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins who tweeted about the performance. It was a typical dominant Clowney performance. And, the first of the season from Clowney. He has been pedestrian for the Seahawks at times. Sure, stretches of impressive play appeared. Clowney's best games before tonight were against the Bengals, Cardinals, and Falcons.

Plenty of shots were taken at the Texans for dumping Clowney for a third round pick. He certainly seemed to have a bit more value than just a third round pick. Obviously if Clowney had been on board with the Miami idea the Dolphins wouldn't have ended up with so many draft picks.

2019 should have been the last season for Clowney in a Texans uniform. The defense could have used him, especially with the Watt injury. He could have built his value more in Houston than in Seattle.

Don't forget, the Texans did Clowney a favor. In his own words, Clowney said he was planning to report until the Texans told him he was going to be traded. Houston could have not said anything to Clowney, let him report, and then traded him wherever they wanted. Regardless of Clowney's wishes.

I bet the Bills have a collapse in them

The Bills have six wins already. They still have contests with the Broncos, Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers, and Patriots. All these games are very possible losses for Buffalo. Not to mention, the Dolphins are no slouches right now and the Jets at the end of the year could be rolling.

If Buffalo falls apart, it won't shock me. If they hang tough and annoy more than a few teams, it won't surprise me either. The Bills making the playoffs would make them ripe for the picking for whatever team ends up hosting them.

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