Every-Thing Sports

Let's examine what the Deshaun Watson factor means for the Texans in 2020

Composite image by Brandon Strange.

It's finally here! Football season is upon us! We've all been waiting around like kids impatiently waiting on Christmas. The NFL will kick off it's 2020 season on Thursday when the Texans visit the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in Kansas City. The Thursday Night Kickoff Special is one of highlights of the NFL season. This will also serve as a test run for fans in stadiums since the Chiefs say they'll have around 20,000 or so fans in Arrowhead. There's a lot riding on not only this game, but the upcoming season. Here's my preview and some thoughts:

The Texans have a significant advantage at QB based on their schedule

With franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson now extended, the Texans can now concentrate on the business at hand: the upcoming 2020 season. Facing the last two league MVPs in the first two games of the season is tough, but the rest of their schedule looks much more manageable. The only other upper echelon quarterback they face after week two is Aaron Rodgers of the Packers in week seven. Ryan Tannehill and Philip Rivers are in their division, but those guys are more Pippen than Jordan. Kirk Cousins and Ben Roethlisberger are the other "close, but no cigar" quarterbacks that the Texans face this season. Watson is better than every quarterback they face except a couple. I can see a 13-3, no less than a 10-6 record from them this season if all goes well. Watson will always make sure the offense will click, but the defense is a bigger question mark. If JJ Watt can stay healthy, McKinney and Cunningham live up to their extensions, and the secondary lives up to their potential, we could be looking at a contender.

NFL preview

The rest of the league will be interesting to watch as well. Can Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs repeat? Will Lamar Jackson and the Ravens take the next step? Which future HOF quarterback will rule the roost in the NFC South? These are all questions we will see play out. However, one of the biggest questions I have is whether or not the NFL will be able to navigate a full season without the hiccups MLB has had as far as the pandemic is concerned? MLB has had several interruptions due to positive coronavirus tests. The NFL is scheduled to play their season as planned, but they canceled the preseason. Also, with the lack of fans (or fans being limited in some stadiums) how will players react? Which rookies, or young players, will step up and make names for themselves? I believe the 49ers will fall victim to the Super Bowl loser trend we've seen over the last few years. Joe Burrow will look better than expected in Cincinnati, if AJ Green stays healthy. Defensive Player of the Year will be a pass rusher. Offensive Player of the Year will be a running back. League MVP won't be a quarterback. This season will be atypical just like everything else. I won't be surprised if a team outside the usual suspects wins the Super Bowl.

There's so much going on right now, it's hard to predict what things will look like. We didn't have a preseason and training camp coverage was limited. There was no fanfare around cut day when teams got down to the 53-man roster. The Texans are in a space in which they could contend for a spot in the Super Bowl if they can get past the boogeymen at the top of the AFC. The team I see surprising people this year is the Browns because I feel they will live up to last year's hype this season. I think we'll see offenses explode given that they tend to get off to better starts than defenses. Could Watson win MVP? Yes, but only if his receivers stay healthy. He has his extension done so that's out of the way. There's nothing holding him back now. Unless you count his head coach. Football is back and I'm ready for it!

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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