MATT HARAB

Here are two must-watch NFL games this weekend for fans of the Texans

Here are two must-watch NFL games this weekend for fans of the Texans
Blake Bortles will be back on the field this week. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Momentum.  It is the most cliche word used in sports, but the win last night for the Texans has given this team a whole lot of it at the midway point of the season.  Momentum for the offensive line, the running game, DeShaun Watson, and most importantly Bill O’Brien, who half the people reading this probably wanted to fire after week 3.

And to beat Brock Osweiler, the man who magically left town back on March 9 last year. Yes it was just last year the Texans turned their entire franchise around by correcting a big mistake. Then just a few months later, they drafted the answer to the long standing problem at quarterback.  

The Texans have now set themselves up in fantastic position within the division.  A division that was thought to be controlled by another team. Speaking of the Jaguars, here are the two games you must pay attention to on Sunday:

Jaguars v Eagles (London game)

If you are an early bird, set an alarm.  You can watch and see what Doug Marrone means by “short leash” which is what he says is on Blake Bortles.  Houston has a 1 ½ game lead now on the Jaguars plus the victory from last week. Jacksonville was fighting in the locker room last week, they traded for a brand new running back because their starter is still hurt. The defense does not look even close to what they were last year.  They are as close to desperate for a win as you can get, even with a light schedule coming up for them. However the Eagles are coming off heartbreak after blowing a 17-point lead to Carolina last week. I expect a low scoring game with offenses struggling, however if the Eagles can give the Jags a loss, that would obviously be huge for Houston.  The Titans have a bye this weekend so, this is the one divisional game to watch.

Broncos at Chiefs

The Texans have two road games coming up. Next week they are in Denver, a team that suffered a weird off the field blow this week with Chad Kelly’s arrest and release.  The backup quarterback randomly walked into a house, sat on a couch and started mumbling incoherently on that couch. (I’ve had my fair share of fun in my life at parties, but I don’t even think a Von Miller halloween party could get me to the level this dude was apparently at.)

The Broncos gave the Chiefs a game the first time these two teams played at Mile High because they could run the ball and they could rush the passer.  In this game, watch the Broncos FRONT 4. Can they get to Patrick Mahomes again? I know the Texans offensive line was FANTASTIC last night, but they will have their hands full against the Broncos in two weeks.  If I am Bill O’Brien, that is the No. 1 thing I’m looking at - how can we stop this pass rush - because we know that DeShaun Watson needs protection to do what he did last night.

I would tell you to watch the Chargers and Patriots (5-win teams in the AFC as well as Houston) but Los Angeles has a bye week and the Patriots have the Bills.  Which is basically a bye week. So hey, sit back this Sunday knowing that Houston has climbed out of this 0-3 hole with grit, confidence and as DeShaun Watson said after the game last night, SWAGGER.  Houston has a lot to be proud of, but they also have two tough road games coming up. If I told you at the beginning of the season that the Texans would be 5-3 at the midway point, you would gladly take it.  Enjoy the weekend. Cheers.

 

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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