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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The NASCAR Cup Series heads for Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers 400. MIS is one of the fastest racetracks in the country, as cars are capable of reaching speeds of 201-205 miles per hour. Hopefully, we will see a safe race considering the speeds we see here. We will more than likely see a race that is vastly different from what we saw last here when the drivers utilized the draft to pass around this track. This year, the cars are less aero-dependent and will be much more spread out. The drivers will need to continue to manage their tires as they have been doing all year.

Last weekend at Indy, Tyler Reddick captured his second victory of 2022 in dramatic fashion. The race came down to numerous restarts where drivers would drive way too deep into the first corner and run into each other each time. This was the central theme of the race, as restarts pretty much decided everything. We saw drivers like AJ Allmendinger, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney get swept up in wrecks in turn one. On the final restart, Ross Chastain decided he didn’t want to be a part of these shenanigans and took the access road that skipped turn one. This moved catapulted him to the lead with Tyler Reddick as the two battled for the lead in a two-lap shootout. When the dust settled, Reddick came away victorious and Ross Chastain was black flagged for shortcutting.

The finish of this race sparked a serious debate among drivers and fans alike about ditching the Indianapolis road course and returning to the oval in 2023. Personally, this doesn’t make any sense to me. While yes, turn one is difficult to maneuver, it’s mainly because drivers all decide to send it as deep as they can, not because of the racetrack configuration. It’s also a bit disingenuous as for years, drivers and fans have been saying they don’t want to see the oval and that the track is designed for IndyCar. If I had to choose, I would say NASCAR just stop going to Indy and go to the short track down the road at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. We have seen so many great races there, and I think the Cup Series would be perfect for that track. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how NASCAR responds to this and what they decide to do for next season.

Kurt Busch will be out for the third consecutive week as he continues to recover from a concussion. This has been tough to hear about, and now there are legitimate concerns that he will not return to racing. There is a good chance however that 23XII could be saving him for the playoffs which are coming up.

For now, Ty Gibbs will continue to fill in for Busch. In his two starts the young phenom has performed extremely well, finishing 16th at Pocono and 17th at Indy. It’s clear that this young man can drive these cars, the only problem is finding a place for him to run next season.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Martin Truex Jr. By any other standard, the season that Truex is having has been great. Constantly up front, leading laps and just overall contending. Unfortunately for him, 2022 hasn’t been just any average season. With 14 winners and Truex not being one of them, he is on the playoff bubble even though he is fourth in points. While his playoff future maybe uncertain right now, there are some good racetracks he is going to where can easily get that first win, and Michigan is one of them. Over the last four races here, he currently has the highest average finish, the highest percentage of laps led, but no victories. I see that changing this week. Toyota and Gibbs have been fast this season as Truex’s teammates have all punched their tickets to the playoffs. Look for Truex to be next in line.

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