GAME BREAKER

Let's discuss 1 playmaker the Texans defense can't afford to sleep on against KC

Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans return to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since bowing out to the Kansas City Chiefs 51-31 in the divisional round of the playoffs last year. The Chiefs had no issues lighting the scoreboard up led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes' electrifying 5 touchdown performance. However, the prevailing thought surrounding the Chiefs offense entering 2020 is that the defending champs might be even better on that side of the ball because of the addition of first-round draft pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire out of LSU.

The 5-7, 207 pound shifty running back rushed for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns last season to go with another 55 receptions for 453 yards and one touchdown as a receiver out of the backfield helping LSU win the National Championship. Despite being a rookie, trying to contain Edwards-Helaire on defense won't be easy. One of the challenges in preparing for Edwards-Helaire is the fact that without any preseason games the only film the Texans have on Edward-Helaire is his college tape.

"We had to go back and watch college tape because of no preseason games," Texans Defensive Coordinator Anthony Weaver said. "He is a very talented back. He's built low to the ground, but he runs tough. He runs tough and strong and he's very good out of the backfield... He reminds me a little bit of Darren Sproles, which obviously Andy (Reid) had in Philly. So, it'll be interesting to see how they go about using him."

In the National Title game against Clemson, Edwards-Helaire rushed for 110 yards and caught five passes for 54 yards. Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien took notice.

"Obviously, he did a great job at LSU with Joe Burrow last year. I mean, they set records," O'Brien said. "Their offensive output at LSU last year was in another stratosphere.

Add Edwards-Helaire to the list of offensive weapons that the Texans are going to have to deal with if they are going to shock the NFL world and win in KC as 9.5 point underdogs.

"Look, he's a guy that can run it, he can hurt you out of the backfield," O'Brien said. "He's a part of an offensive system now in Kansas City that's a very dynamic one. We're just going to have to do as good a job as we can of knowing where he's at, how they're trying to use him early on and do as good a job as we can."

Jake Asman is a national host on SportsMap Radio. You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM - 10 AM Central.

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Houston scored in droves

Astros drub Twins in finale to take series win

Houston's offense showered Minnesota with hits in Sunday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games, with Houston's offense uncharacteristically ineffective in the loss on Saturday, they tried to turn things around with a win to take the series on Sunday. The Astros would bounce right back at the plate, getting hits and runs all through the afternoon to rout the Twins.

Final Score: Astros 14, Twins 3

Astros' Record: 37-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-0)

Losing Pitcher: Michael Pineda (3-4)

Valdez keeps rolling

Framber Valdez continued to impress in 2021 after starting his season on the IL, posting another quality start with a win against the Twins. After four scoreless frames, he allowed a solo homer to start the bottom of the fifth, just the third hit of the game for Minnesota to that point. He went on to retire the next three batters to get through the inning.

He faltered a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff double followed by a single, with a run coming across on an error on that play. He once again rebounded to finish that frame, then put up a 1-2-3 seventh to finish his day off, notching another quality start and a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 97 P.

Houston keeps their foot on the gas

While Valdez's outing was a highlight of its own, Houston's offense was the story of the day. They put their foot down on the pedal all day and did not let up, starting in the top of the first when Jose Altuve turned the first pitch of the game around for a single, later scoring on a sac fly by Alex Bregman to put the Astros in front 1-0.

After two scoreless innings, they got right back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker, then kept pouring it on with two runs in the fifth on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel and an error, making it 5-0 at the time. The runs kept coming in the top of the sixth, with a two-RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would score later on a two-run bomb by Yordan Alvarez. Then, in the top of the seventh, Brantley struck again to push it to double-digits with a two-RBI single to make it 11-2 and give Brantley 4 RBI on the afternoon.

With Houston swapping out starters with the hefty lead, even their pinch-hitters were getting involved, with Chas McCormick leading the top of the eighth off with a solo shot to make it a ten-run game. They then loaded the bases with no outs, setting up a sac fly for Myles Straw to make it 13-2.

Astros take the series

In the bottom of the eighth, Ralph Garza Jr. came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen for Houston. He recorded two quick outs but then met Nelson Cruz, who lasered a solo homer to put it back at a ten-run game before finishing the frame. Houston put their twentieth hit on the board in the top of the ninth, their highest total this season, en route to another scoring inning with a sac fly by Robel Garcia to make it 14-3. Garza came in for his second inning of work to wrap things up in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Astros a successful end to this series and road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel home before an off day on Monday to rest before 20 days of consecutive games. They'll kick off a six-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming in the Rangers for two starting at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros, though Jake Odorizzi will "piggy-back" him, and Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the mound for Texas.

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