NFL Friday Stoots six-pack: Rodgers, the Bengals and more

NFL Friday Stoots six-pack: Rodgers, the Bengals and more
Should Aaron Rodgers stay on the sideline this week? Getty Images


The Friday Six Pack has a few thoughts from me from around the NFL and some thoughts on the Texans heading into the weekend. 

1. Aaron Rodgers would be foolish to play this weekend. The Vikings have one of the best defenses in football and will get after Rodgers as much if not more than the Bears. If a few weeks of rest will improve his situation Green Bay needs to take the opportunity. The Packers need to get as close to double-digit wins as possible and risking Rodgers in Week 2 isn't the way to do it. This is the exact reason they tried to upgrade their backup quarterback spot. Now, if for some reason rest wouldn't help Rodgers, play him until his leg falls off. 

2. Can the Bengals with the AFC North? Sure. Will they? Damn, they might! Having watched a good portion of both their games Andy Dalton actually looks like a consistently decent quarterback which hasn't always been the case especially lately. The Ravens certainly aren't winning this division with Joe Flacco at quarterback. The Browns aren't winning either. That leaves the Bengals and the Steelers. Is Pittsburgh going to rally around Le'Veon Bell's absence? Only can help so much. Conner isn't Bell but he sure looked good. 

3. We will all learn a lot more about the Steelers and Browns on Sunday. It won't tell us everything but if Pittsburgh struggles again the Bell absence might be a really tough obstacle. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs put it on the Chargers last week and they travel to the Steel City on Sunday. The other half of the opening weekend tie was Cleveland. The Browns head to New Orleans and face a disgraced Saints team who was embarrassed last week. If Cleveland plays the Saints close they actually might be an improved team. If the Saints blow them out, week one luck. 

4. If the Texans are close to being full strength at wide receiver the Texans might have an interesting roster decision or two to make. It seems they might have kept six wideouts with Will Fuller, Keke Coutee, and Sammie Coates all dealing with hamstring injuries early in the season. Coates was active last game. Fuller talked like he will be back tearing up the Titans like he always does. Coutee seems to be a little further away. Last year against the Titans saw Fuller catch two touchdowns on just four receptions. The Titans will have Adoree Jackson in his second year and Malcolm Butler is new to their secondary. 

5. Rishard Matthews and Luke Stocker are the only pass catchers with more than two years of experience on the Titans roster. The Texans may be short on significant depth at cornerback but Johnathan Joseph and Aaron Colvin are more than equipped to hold down this Titans passing attack on the outside while they figure out the inside attack. Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur comes from the Rams who used a lot of three wide receiver sets. Shareece Wright and the safeties will have to account for the other wideout and Jonnu Smith, the second year player who is expected to get the majority of the tight end time for Tennessee. 

6. Deshaun Watson will showcase right away how much he can improve from week to week. It's been rare we have had to see Watson bounce back or even had the opportunity to ask it of him. He had so many dazzling performances last year there's a chance this is his first real NFL rebound opportunity. Bill O'Brien will be important here in helping Watson along and getting him comfortable with his gameplan early. Things to look for with Watson are quicker decision making to go along with trust in his offensive line. More than a few times Watson broke a pocket good enough to make a solid throw creating the appearance of bad offensive line play. 

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Braves beat Houston in extra innings, 5-4. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Marcell Ozuna hit his major league-leading eighth homer and Orlando Arcia’s RBI single in the 10th inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

It completes a three-game sweep of the struggling Astros and is Atlanta’s fourth straight victory.

The Braves scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie it at 4-4. Michael Harris II started the 10th as the automatic runner on second and there was one out in the inning when Seth Martinez (1-1) intentionally walked Matt Olson.

Ozuna lined out to right field to send Harris to third base. Arcia then singled on a ground ball to left field to score Harris and put the Braves on top.

Pinch-runner Jake Meyers was on second when Kyle Tucker walked with no outs in the 10th. Meyers moved to third on a fly out by Yainer Diaz but Jeremy Peña grounded into a double play to end it.

A.J. Minter (3-1) got the last two outs of the ninth for the win and Raisel Iglesias earned his fifth save.

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. added his first homer of the season to help the Braves to the victory. Ozuna also leads the majors with 23 RBIs and he extended his hitting streak to 16 games, which ties his career best and is the longest active streak in the majors.

Yordan Alvarez and Mauricio Dubón both homered for the Astros, who fell to 6-14 and are last in the AL West.

There was one out in the first when Alvarez connected on his homer to the seats in left field to put Houston up 1-0.

Ozuna opened the second with his 432-foot shot to left field, which bounced off the wall and tied the game.

Acuña put the Braves up 2-1 when he sent the first pitch of the fifth inning to straightaway center field.

The Astros tied it on an RBI single by Alex Bregman in the fifth and Kyle Tucker’s RBI double came next to put the Astros up 3-2.

Dubón hit his first home run of the year off Jesse Chavez to start Houston’s sixth and push the lead to 4-2.

Harris singled to start the seventh before a ground-rule double by Austin Riley. Olson reached, and Harris scored on a fielding error by first baseman José Abreu when he couldn’t grab a routine ground ball.

There was one out in the inning when Riley scored on a sacrifice fly by Arcia to tie it at 4-all.

Houston starter J.P. France allowed four hits and two runs in five innings.

Max Fried gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings.


Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday before opening a series against Texas on Friday night with LHP Chris Sale (1-1, 4.58 ERA) on the mound.

Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night against Washington. The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

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