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 gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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