CODY STOOTS

The Friday Stoots 6-pack for Week 5

J.J. Watt will have a tough test this week. Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

1. Can my buddy Patrick Mahomes do it again or can he do it again? When it looked like Denver had him bottled up he unleashed "Showtime" Mahomes on them in short order leading a road comeback. The Jacksonville Jaguars come to town as the toughest test quarter-pole MVP has faced. This is a potential AFC playoff preview and Andy Reid will have to coach up his young quarterback to avoid the deadly pitfalls a Jaguars defense presents. If they can't slow Mahomes down the question will be, who can?

2. The Falcons and Steelers have to be near the top of the early season disappointment list and they square off with each other Sunday. One of these high-powered offenses is going to leave this game with one win. That seems crazy when both were easily thought of as playoff contenders and the Steelers Super Bowl contenders. The Falcons have excuses in injuries destroying their defense. The Steelers have fewer excuses, James Conner has filled in admirably for Le'Veon Bell and their defense returns a ton of the players that made them good last year. Both coaches should be staring down the hot seat if this early season dip continues. 

3. Stop me if you've heard this before but the Patriots are loaded again. Tom Brady looks deadset on fighting Father Time to the death and now the Patriots have a piece of the puzzle they've been missing, a hammer. Sony Michel is the first guy in a long time they can turn to over and over again and at any moment have him break a big one but hold up between the tackles. James White is as dangerous as ever. Josh Gordon is coming along nicely as well. Julian Edelman is back from suspension and they still have Chris Hogan and Gronk. The defense stinks, maybe one of the worst they've put on the field recently, but their offense is as good as ever. 

4. I know Ezekiel Elliot is the big target on the Cowboys. The Colts though just tore up the Texans defense with a few guys you've never heard of so I am a little worried about one Dallas player having a big day. Cole Beasley is the slot king of South Oklahoma and he's far better than any Colts receiver that isn't T.Y. Hilton. His craftiness and ability will be on full display Sunday night. So, while Elliot grabs attention don't forget about the short-game superstar Beasley. 

5. The AFC Defensive Player of the Month J.J. Watt and AFC Defensive Player of the Week Jadeveon Clowney have a tough task this week. Their toughest, actually. Watt spent a month eating up backup tackles who frankly aren't La'el Collins. Tyron Smith, despite recent bouts of injuries, is still a top tackle in the game. Where they will have to show up against the Texans award-winning duo is slowing down Watt and Clowney in the rush game. Both absolutely wreck the rushing attack of an offense and if Elliot can't get going the Cowboys will have no hope Sunday night. 

6. Sunday Night Football last year was an absolute nightmare for the Texans. Against the Chiefs, the team lost Whitney Mercilus for the year and J.J. Watt broke his leg, looking the most human he has ever looked. The big bright spot was, as usual in 2017, Deshaun Watson. It was a terribly slow start as the whole franchise was in shock during the first half. Watson warmed up in the second half. He tossed four touchdowns and made the final score look respectable. It was underwhelming to see what the offense did with a lead last week. They should've put the Colts away. Hopefully, the Texans don't need second-half heroics from Watson on this year's Sunday night affair. It would be great to see the offense get a lead, really get a team down, and bury them. No better opponent than the Cowboys. 

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The Astros will look to bounce back after a tough week. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After a 6-3 record to start the season, the Houston Astros had a tumultuous week to say the least. They were swept by the Tigers, lost 2 of 3 games to the Seattle Mariners and placed five players on the COVID injured list.

The Tigers' new manager AJ Hinch returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since the Astros let him go after the cheating scandal in early 2020.

The Tigers swept the Astros and outscored them 20-8 over their three matchups.

Before the 3rd game of the series, the Astros found out they would be without five players on their active roster. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia were all placed on the COVID-19 injury reserved list.

"It's hard on the team but you have to carry on. The show must go on," manager Dusty Baker said. "And it went on today with some younger players we have here."

Garrett Stubbs, Taylor Jones and Abraham Toro were called up as well as Alex De Goti and Ronnie Dawson who made their major league debuts last week.

The Tigers were able to score runs early on Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers and Jake Odorizzi (who made his Astros debut) and none of these starters lasted more than five innings in the outings.

Yuli Gurriel was the one Astros bright spot against the Tigers as he had 7 hits and drove in 2 runs. He is still continuing to hit the ball consistently as he finished the series with a .429 batting average.

After a 1-5 home stand the Astros looked to bounce back on the road against the division leading Seattle Mariners (you read that correctly).

Friday night proved to be the Astros' best offensive performance since their home opener on April 8th against the A's.

They scored five runs on Yusei Kikuchi through 7 innings behind good hitting from Aledmys Diaz, Chas McCormick and De Goti who drove in two runs on his first major league hit.

The Astros had a 5-2 lead at this point, but Seattle was able to score 4 unanswered to win the game.

Bryan Abreu, Blake Taylor and Ryne Stanek were credited with those four runs.

Ryan Pressly tried to clean up the bottom of the 9th inning after Stanek put the first two batters on base. His effort was unsuccessfully as Ty France hit a game-ending single that scored J.P. Crawford from second to secure a Mariners victory.

Saturday was the best game of the week for the Astros as they finally broke their six-game losing streak.

After failing to pitch more than five innings on Monday against the Tigers, Zack Greinke threw eight shutout innings with 91 pitches.

He struck out six batters and gave up only 4 hits.

"That's what aces do," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys like (Greinke) ... they stop the bleeding and we're about bled out."

Greinke finished the game with 2,705 career strikeouts. He is now third amongst active players in strikeouts behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Ryan Pressly got some redemption too as he threw a perfect 9th inning giving him his first save of the year.

The Astros won this game 1-0 as Taylor Jones drove in the game's only run with an RBI single.

Sunday's game ended the Astros week with a whimper, as the Mariners bested Houston 7-2.

Jake Odorizzi got off to a good start, but he gave up three hits and was pulled after Mitch Haniger's fifth-inning triple made it a 3-2 lead over the Astros.

Odorizzi is now (0-2) with a 10.57 ERA after two starts with the Astros.

Houston's offensive woes continued Sunday, as Aledmys Díaz had their only hit, an RBI double in the second inning that fell in when outfielder José Marmolejos lost the ball in the sun.

"It's tough to take when you only got one hit and the one hit we got was lost in the sun," Baker said.

UP NEXT: The Astros (7-8) will finish their road trip with a two game series against the Rockies who have the worst record in the league (4-12) before starting an eight-game homestead.

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