Falcon Points

Houston has another player in the MVP conversation, and while it is a long shot, let's take a look at how Deshaun Watson stacks up

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Houston fans are obsessed with MVP awards. Maybe it is because the teams themselves rarely bring home the ultimate hardware. Maybe it is because all three major teams have had legitimate MVP candidates over the past several years. James Harden and Jose Altuve have won MVPs recently. J.J. Watt made a case a few years ago, and Alex Bregman will likely be runner up this season.

So it is no surprise that as Deshaun Watson's name starts to come up, Houston fan is excited again. The Texans quarterback is a legitimate candidate through nine games, but there is a lot of football left. The next three games will be huge for both the Texans and Watson. It's not just homerism; Vegas has him as the third favorite in the wagering at +600. So let's look at the other top four contenders:

1) Russell Wilson, +175, favorite

Russell Wilson Getty Images

Wilson has the Seahawks in the mix for a West Division title after Monday's win over the 49ers. Wilson is completing 68.5 percent of his passes, has a 114.9 rating and 23 TDs to just 2 interceptions with 2,737 passing yards in 10 games.

The Seahawks are 8-2, a game behind the 49ers and Wilson is a big part. The deserving favorite so far.

2) Lamar Jackson, +250 second favorite

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals

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You could make the case that Jackson should be the favorite. His passing numbers don't measure up to Watson and Wilson, with just 2,036 yards, but he has completed 65.3 percent with 15 TDs and just 5 interceptions and a rating of 101.7. But Jackson's excellence is in the running game; he has 702 yards and averages 6.6 per carry. Combined with efficient passing and explosive plays, he has been a human highlight reel. And oh yes, the Ravens are 7-2 and have a win over the Patriots. A head to head victory and outperforming Watson this week could put him on top, although Wilson is going to be hard to catch if he keeps playing this well.

3) Aaron Rodgers +900 fourth choice

Aaron Rodgers Andy Lyons

Rodgers will always get a lot of support if he stays healthy. A media darling, if the Packers continue to win games, he will climb the list. Green Bay is 8-2, thanks in part to an improved defense. But Rodgers has been excellent with 2,718 yards passing, a 64.5 percent completion rate, 17 TDs and just two interceptions and a 107.2 rating, so his numbers are legitimate.

4) Christian McCaffrey +900 co-fourth choice

It's hard for a running back to win this award, but McCaffrey was superb early in the season to get a lot of run. However he has tailed off of late. Still, he is the Panthers offense, with 983 rushing yards, a 5.3 average and 11 TDs on the ground. Be he also has 48 receptions for 396 yards and another three TDs. A strong finish keeps him in the mix.

Other contenders

Patrick Mahomes Photo via Kansas City Chiefs/Facebook

Patrick Mahomes missed some time but is still +1400 and still has almost half a season and his numbers are outstanding. Tom Brady (+2000), Drew Brees (+2500), Jimmy Garroppolo (+2500), Dak Prescott (+3300) and Kirk Cousins (+3300) are next in the wagering, but they all seem unlikely at this point. Dalvin Cook of the Vikings might still be able to make a run. Realistically, it's hard to see anyone outside of the top five other than perhaps Mahomes, but again, a lot of football is left to be played.

The case for Watson

Realistically, Watson is a deserving top four candidate. In my current rankings, he would slot in behind Wilson, Jackson and Rodgers, but the next three weeks could move him way up or take him out of the race entirely. Still, he has completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 2,432 yards, 18 touchdowns, five interceptions and a rating of 107.1. He also has rushed for 279 yards on 52 carries and five TDs. His numbers put him right there, but team record will be a big factor here. He is unlikely to have significantly better numbers than Jackson, Wilson or Rodgers, so his best hope is to keep winning games and continue to play at a high level. And like all of them, stay healthy.

There is a long way to go, but for now, at least another Houston athlete is in the MVP conversation. We will see how long it lasts.

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Houston looked much more like themselves

Astros return to form in win over Angels at home

Cristian Javier was impressive Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Hoping to avoid spiraling further out of control, the Astros turned the page from their disappointing road trip and the recent stretch of games. They hoped to start this new homestand on a good note, welcoming in the Angels for four games of this eight-game stint at Minute Maid Park.

Houston would get the much-needed win, with their offense coming alive early in the game to put up big innings, which they rode to the victory thanks in part to a great start by Cristian Javier.

Final Score: Astros 8, Angels 2

Astros' Record: 8-10, fifth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Alex Cobb (1-1)

Astros' offense starts clicking early

Houston would grab the early momentum, despite leaving the bases loaded in the first inning. They would get a leadoff double by Aledmys Diaz in the bottom of the second, followed by an RBI triple by Myles Straw to jump in front 1-0. They made it a three-run inning, with an RBI by Carlos Correa then a bases-loaded RBI-walk by Yuli Gurriel, though for consecutive innings would leave three runners stranded on base.

Correa drove in another in the bottom of the next inning, getting an RBI single to push the lead to four runs, then would come in on a two-run single by Alex Bregman, who made it 6-0. That set things up nicely for Cristian Javier, who was on the mound trying to take advantage of the opportunity for another start.

Javier has an electric start



Javier was electric over the first three innings, including getting eight of the first nine outs by strikeout while allowing only a walk and double during that span. He would have longer innings in the next two, but in both cases would keep the Angels off the board, finishing in line for the win. His final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 98 P.

Houston gets the much-needed win

Meanwhile, Houston's offense kept scoring. They pushed the lead two runs further over the fourth and fifth, getting a run in each with another RBI each for Straw and Bregman. With Javier's night done, Bryan Abreu was first out of the Astros bullpen, and despite allowing a controversial two-run home run to Albert Pujols, of all people, that looked to be a foul ball, got through the inning.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the seventh but would get just one out while hitting a batter and allowing a single before Dusty Baker brought in Brooks Raley to face the heavy left-handed part of the Angels lineup. Raley would get through it, sending things to the seventh-inning stretch with the six-run lead intact.

Raley would get another out before Joe Smith would finish that inning in the top of the eighth. Ryan Pressly, who has been starved for work lately with no save opportunities, would close things out in the ninth as Houston would start this series off with a win.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM start on Friday night. Andrew Heaney (1-1, 5.65 ERA) will be on the mound for the Angels, while Zack Greinke (2-1, 2.81 ERA) will look to repeat the success of his last start; an eight-inning shutout performance for the Astros.

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