How Houston Texans can conquer daunting task of taming streaking Bengals

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The Houston Texans are coming off their most dramatic win of the season and now must shift their focus to one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Joe Burrow and the Bengals have won 4 straight games, after getting off to a slow start this season. Cincinnati is favored by about a touchdown, depending on which sportsbook you're looking at.

So this will be a tough challenge on the road for a young team that's all of a sudden dealing with a lot of success. There are several things working in the Texans' favor. Bengals superstar receiver Ja'Marr Chase is dealing with a back injury, so even if he plays, he may not be at full strength.

Also, the Bengals may be looking past the Texans, with a huge division game against the Ravens looming the following week. That game will have massive implications in the AFC North, a division with every team chasing Baltimore sharing a 5-3 record.

The Bengals are also one of the few teams that struggle to run the ball (32nd in rushing) more than the Texans, so maybe Houston can take advantage of that and sell out to keep their receivers in check.

For Houston, it's all about the passing game. But CJ Stroud will have to be careful, as the Bengals have the 2nd-most interceptions (11) in the NFL.

For an early preview of Texans-Bengals, watch the video above for the full breakdown!

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Raners defeat the Astros, 4-2. Composite Getty Image.

Josh Smith homered twice with four RBIs to lead the Texas Rangers to a 4-2 win over the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Smith had a two-run shot in the first and added another one with two outs in the eighth to push the lead to 4-1. It’s the first multi-homer game of the 26-year-old’s career.

The Rangers won the last two games of the series after dropping Friday’s opener 6-3. They also got a 2-1 victory Saturday thanks to Nathaniel Lowe’s RBI single in the 10th inning.

Jake Meyers cut the lead to 1 with a solo home run in the third but the Astros went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position to fall to 50-46 entering the All-Star break.

Texas starter Max Scherzer allowed four hits and a run with six strikeouts in four-plus innings in his fifth start of the season.

Jon Singleton walked before a single by Jeremy Peña with no outs in the ninth. There was one out in the inning when Singleton scored on a groundout by Joey Loperfido to cut the lead to 4-2. Trey Cabbage grounded out to end it and give Kirby Yates his 16th save.

Ronel Blanco (9-4) permitted two hits and two runs with five strikeouts in six innings. He settled down after his tough first inning and retired the last 12 batters he faced.

Marcus Semien singled to start the game but was out at second when Corey Seager grounded into a foreceout. Smith gave the Rangers an early lead with his towering shot to the second deck to make it 2-0.

Meyers opened Houston’s third with a shot to the seats in left field to cut the lead to 2-1. Jose Altuve singled with two outs and stole second base but Scherzer struck out Alex Bregman for the third out.

The Astros had a shot to tie it or take the lead in the fifth. Peña and Meyers both singled before Loperfido walked to load the bases with no outs in the inning and chase Scherzer. Josh Sborz (2-0) took over and escaped the jam by striking out Mauricio Dubón before retiring Altuve on a pop up and Bregman on a groundout to end the inning.

Seager walked with two outs in the eighth before Smith connected again to give him 10 home runs this season.

Altuve reached on a fielding error by Smith with one out in the eighth before Bregman singled off José Leclerc. Jacob Latz took over and struck out Yordan Alvarez before Yainer Diaz grounded out to leave Houston emptyhanded again.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Josh Jung (fractured right wrist) swung 15 times off a tee using a regular bat Sunday. Manager Bruce Bochy said he would continue increasing his activity during the break as he nears a rehabilitation assignment.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) threw a bullpen session of 25 pitches Sunday. Manager Joe Espada said he looked “really good” and would throw another bullpen session during the break.

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