Here's an exciting, realistic path to victory for Houston Texans in home opener

The Texans welcome the Colts to NRG on Sunday. Composite Getty Image.

What: Colts @ Texans

When: 9/17 12pm CST kickoff

Where: Houston, TX NRG Stadium

TV/Radio: KHOU-TV, KILT-Radio

Betting Lines: Colts -1 (-110), O/U 40 (-110) *As of this writing

The Texans home opener this season is against the division rival Colts. Both teams enter the game with some similarities. They both start rookie quarterbacks. They both have former players as head coach. Both have general managers that have a coaching background, and have owners who are eccentric in their own ways. The Colts and Texans also have defenses their teams will rely upon until the offenses catch up. Let's take a look at the matchup:

When the Colts have the ball: The Texans defensive line is up and coming. This matchup will largely determine the outcome of this game. While Anthony Richardson was seen as an athletic freak this past draft season, the Texans just sacked Lamar Jackson four times in their first game. We're talking about a former league MVP and one of the fastest players in the league. Richardson was also sacked four times in his debut against the Jags. Richardson didn't have a great day rushing either (10 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown, with his longest run being 12 yards). Their receivers also don't scare me. I can see the Texans dictating things with their stout play along the front. As long as they stop the run, they'll force the Colts into down and distances that favor their pass rush.

When the Texans have the ball: I think C.J. Stroud held the ball way too long against the Ravens. Some of the sacks and hits he took came from him trying to make a play down the field instead of dumping it off or throwing it away. Look for the Colts to apply pressure to attempt to force him into mistakes. I expect the Texans to counter that with more quick throws. More three and five step drops over anything. Also, look for Dameon Pierce to get a ton of carries. Other running backs should get touches as well, but look for Pierce to tote the rock at least 15-20 times. This will take the pressure off Stroud. The Jags ran it 35 times for 105 yards against this Colts defense. They kept pounding the rock and relied on their defense, while using the pass game when necessary. Running 52% of the time despite averaging only 3.0 per carry was a choice that paid off. Quick throws, running the ball relentlessly, and play action passes will lead to success. The Texans offensive line isn't in a state where they can be relied upon fully. However, lineman love to run block. That's their best bet to overtake the Colts' defensive line.

Outcome: I see the Texans pulling off a 20-16 win. It'll be a close game. I can see a turnover for the Texans defense either leading to an easy touchdown, or scoring a defensive touchdown. The game will come down to the Colts kicking a field goal late, then relying on their defense to get the ball back, down 17-16. Texans will drive the field and kick a field goal with about a minute or so left to go up 20-16. The game will end with a Will Anderson Jr sack of Anthony Richardson, or he'll pressure him into a bad throw and incompletion.

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The Houston Astros managed to win the AL West once again, and while things got a little nerve wracking toward the end of the season, when it mattered most, the 'Stros took care of business.

It certainly didn't hurt to get a little help from the Mariners, beating the Rangers 1-0 on Sunday, paving the way for the Astros to secure the division. Rangers fans and members of their broadcast team were none too pleased with the Diamondbacks resting some of their starters on Sunday.

But let's be real, with the division on the line, the Rangers couldn't even manage to score a single run on Sunday against Seattle. That's why they're playing in the Wild Card series, not because of how Arizona approached Sunday's game.

So what did we learn during these must-win games over the last week? A lot was made of GM Dana Brown's comments on the team's flagship station. Brown was hoping manager Dusty Baker would put the best offensive lineup on the field. Yainer Diaz did not start a single game of the Diamondbacks series. But Chas McCormick played every game of the Mariners and Diamondbacks series, except for the finale against Seattle, after being hit in the back with a fastball the night before.

Michael Brantley played in two of three against Arizona, so he appears to be an option Dusty will turn to moving forward. And with the Astros only scoring 1 and 2 runs in two of the three wins against the D-Backs, the Astros need every bit of offense they can get.

Plus, we discuss how getting extra rest for Michael Brantley, Jose Abreu, and the bullpen could pay huge dividends for the club. And don't look now, but Jose Abreu is getting hot at just the right time!

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion.

And be sure to watch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportMapHouston's YouTube channel.

Listen to ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM for Houston's best sports talk.

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