TEXANS 27, RAIDERS 24

Injuries continue to mount, but Watson works his magic in 27-24 Texans victory

The Texans took on the Raiders at NRG Stadium on Sunday and managed to escape with a 27-24 victory. A look at how it all played out.

Offense

The positives: Deshaun Watson had another big game, going 27 of 39 for 279 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. He also ran effectively with 46 yards on 10 carries (including three kneel downs at the end of the game). He gave them a lead in the fourth quarter with a miraculous escape in the pocket and throwing a touchdown pass after getting kicked in the eye. Bill O'Brien made some good offensive halftime adjustments. He also continues to go for it on fourth downs, and he did it again to start the third quarter from his own 35. The Texans converted, and it led to a field goal. The tight ends were a big part of the offense with eight catches including two touchdowns by Darren Fells. They managed to stay afloat despite losing Laremy Tunsil late in the game. DeAndre Hopkins had one clutch catch after another, with 11 for 109 yards.

The negatives: Once again, they started slowly. They have not scored on their opening drive this season. Untimely, drive-killing penalties continue to be a problem. The Texans converted a third down midway through the second quarter, but a holding penalty negated it. Watson nearly threw a pick six on a bad throw early in the game but the Raiders could not hold the ball. Jordan Akins had a rough day with a couple drops, the holding penalty mentioned above, and killed a drive on first down by running into his own running back, causing a huge loss. The Texans were forced to settle for a field goal on that drive. As a team they allowed three sacks.

Defense

The positives: They did a decent job against the run, which is the strength of the Raiders. But Oakland was also throwing the ball a lot more than normal. They did a better job with penalties - most were on the Texans offense. They came up with a huge fourth quarter stop up 27-24 to get the ball back to the offense with just under four minutes to play. The Raiders would not get the ball again.

The negatives: They blew a coverage then missed a tackle on Hunter Renfrow's 68-yard catch and run for a score. Tyrell Williams also caught a 46-yard touchdown pass. Both came on third downs, where the Texans continue to struggle. Injuries became the biggest issue as both J.J. Watt and Lonnie Johnson were knocked out late in the first half. Watt is reportedly lost for the season. Johnson's injury was particularly concerning since the secondary has been so beat up. They did not get much pressure on Derek Carr, even with Watt in the game. Dylan Cole dropped what could have been a pick six in the fourth quarter.

The bottom line

This was a solid win, considering the injuries. They were overmatched in the secondary but managed to play just well enough. Watson and the offense took over in the second half, scoring on every possession but the last one, where they were able to take a knee. They now head to London to take on the Jags with a chance to be 6-3 going to the break, but the injury concerns are very real. Watt is gone for the year and can't be replaced. Tunsil is also irreplaceable. Johnson is a key member of a secondary that is already depleted. They are 5-3 at the halfway point, and it was a much-needed win as the entire AFC South won on Sunday. The Raiders are a decent team, and getting a win was big considering the injuries. Now we just have to sit back and find out how bad the Tunsil and Johnson injuries are.

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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