Texans-Broncos observations

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans win over the Broncos

Demaryius Thomas had an impact in his debut. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

With their five game win streak on the line, the Texans beat the Broncos 19-17. They were helped greatly at the end of the game yet again. Here’s how I saw it:

The Good

-Newly acquired receiver Demaryius Thomas got going early against his former team. On the first drive, he had two catches for 49 yards. The drive ended with a Jordan Thomas seven yard touchdown, the team’s first opening drive touchdown all season.

-Deshaun Watson looked really good today playing in the thin Denver air while still fighting through his lung/rib injury. He was 17 of 24 for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He chipped in 38 yards rushing as well.   

-Rookie safety Justin Reid came up with a fumble recovery in the second quarter that led to the team’s second touchdown. It’s his second straight game with a turnover. The rookie is paying dividends and making teams wonder how’d he slip to the third round.

The Bad

-Missed tackles continue to plague this defense. Tyrann Mathieu, Shareece Wright, and Natrell Jamerson all missed tackles that led to first downs. Kareem Jackson is the only sure tackler in the secondary. That’s a scary thought considering his slight frame and tendency to throw his body at guys when tackling.

- Injuries to the linebacking corps have depleted an already bad group in coverage as 58 of the 87 yards on the Broncos’ first touchdown drive came on two plays to their tight ends being covered or a blown coverage by Texan linebackers.

-Ka’imi Fairbairn missed his first extra point all season. This was another play/scoring chance that almost cost them the game. Let’s hope it’s not a sign of things to come. We’ve seen kickers miss easy kicks and get the yips.

The Ugly

-The failed fourth and one attempt in the second quarter while in field goal range took almost guaranteed points off the board. Scoring and play calling in the “red area” has been an issue all season.

-The 18 yard completion on fourth and eight at the end of the game nearly cost them. It put the Broncos in field goal range and could have spelled the end of the win streak.

-Mathieu got called for illegal use of the helmet right before halftime. The receiver started lowering his head as Mathieu went for the tackle. If they wanted to call contact to a defenseless receiver I wouldn’t have disagreed. The sheer absurdity and frequency of these calls is taking away from the game. Defenders are scared to make plays for fear of penalty. After the Hugo Cruz firing, refs are making preemptive calls. Something has to be done NOW!

Despite missing more scoring opportunities and continually shooting themselves in the foot, the Texans held on to their win streak by the thinnest of margins again. This team is well on their way to winning a bad division and making the playoffs. But they have got to fix the brain farts in key situations or else their playoff run will be short-lived. For now, fans should celebrate one of the longest win streaks after an 0-3 start in NFL history.

 

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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