MATT HARAB

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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Houston's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

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