Can Hilton get the Texans again and can the Colts slow down Hopkins?

Hilton, Desir's health big keys in game with Colts

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The Friday Stoots Six-Pack is here for you. Crack it open.

Watson learning from Verlander

Among the things in this amazing Deshaun Watson article is his relationship with Astros star pitcher Justin Verlander.

QB1 taking plenty of cues from SP1.

They eat dinner and watch film together and Watson has tried to learn from Verlander's calm.

Watson's demeanor is evident. The joy is short. The failure even shorter on his memory. He might be getting ready for the Colts but he will be watching his buddy try to close out the Yankees for sure.

Red zone resurgence

Last year the Texans ranked 29th in the NFL with about 50 percent of their red zone looks going for touchdowns. This year the Texans are the best in football with almost 72 percent of red zone possessions going for six.

This. Is. Incredible. Huge credit to Bill O'Brien and Deshaun Watson for getting on the same page.

Not only is it better, it looks EASY sometimes. They are really in a groove.

Oh, and by the way, Colts offense is smack dab in the middle in the same stat. Their defense? 30th in the NFL. It is a GREAT matchup for the Texans this week. Just have to get into the red zone.

Hopkins stopper out of commission?

Pierre Desir didn't practice on Thursday. His status for Sunday is up in the air with a hamstring injury.

Last year in three games with the Colts against the Texans Desir allowed six catches on 12 targets for 99 yards. He intercepted the above ball and added two pass breakups. Now, it is worth noting Hopkins was banged up in the second and third showdown. Now, it seems Desir is hurt.

If he cant go, along with fellow secondary member Kenny Moore and pass rusher Justin Houston, the Colts might be in trouble from a talent standpoint in slowing down the Texans passing attack.

Halloween Hilton is as scary as can be

Eugene Marquis "T. Y." Hilton has been an absolute terror for the Texans to cover in his career. Now, lets point out a lot of this was with Andrew Luck tossing him the ball.

In 2017 Jacoby Brissett was the quarterback throwing him the ball. One of the best games, the 5-175-2 game, was with Brissett tossing him the ball.

Regardless, he's a monster. He can change the game. He has had great games with Johnathan Joseph guarding him and it would seem if Bradley Roby can't go it would be Joseph on Hilton again.

Hilton could be a big key if the Colts get the ground game going too. If Marlon Mack is forcing the defense to creep up, it will be much easier for Hilton to creep up. If the front seven can slow Mack without safety help, that leaves a little more help for Hilton.

Last stand for the right leg?

Ka'imi Fairbairn hasn't been solid this season. He needs to be better. There has been a lot of speculation new holder Bryan Anger has been part of the issue. It is worth noting a penalty wiped out a earlier Fairbairn miss in the Saints game in the first week of the season.

I spoke with former NFL kicker Nick "Nick the Kick" Lowery this week. He didn't seem to think the conversation around the laces was that important to the situation.

"That's overrated," he said. "It does help to not kick the laces, but it's not a reason to miss. If it's a long field goal, it might take a little bit of distance off. It really doesn't take accuracy off if you keep your form."

That's just one kicker but it is interesting the more you read the less the laces feel in the level of importance. Not that it isn't important, but the less and less they are important.

Just watch this

Awesome. I knew some of things already but a great telling of an amazing story and where Hopkins comes from.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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