3 headlines, 2 questions, 1 bet

Plenty to fix as loss resets Texans

Jadeveon Clowney was in the spotlight. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The win streak is over but there is still plenty to play for in Houston. The Texans try to restart the streak and I have three headlines, two questions, and one bet for you on this Monday.

"Our first down offense was terrible"

Bill O'Brien isn't wrong about that.

"Our first down offense was terrible," he said Sunday. "I mean, it was awful. We lost yards on first down, I mean, probably between eight to 10 times today."

The Texans saw 34 first downs in this game. They lost yards on seven of those plays and had one pre-snap penalty on first down. They gained no yards on five of those plays. They gained between 1-3 yards five times as well. So, half the Texans first downs went for less than three yards and 12 went for no gain or negative yards. That, is indeed, terrible.

The Colts had one hell of a plan to stop the run on first down and executed it well. The Texans had some success late in the game with rushing the ball, but by then the clock is working against them to a large degree. Credit to the Colts, they made the Texans offensive line struggle in both facets of the game. It was a game film the Texans will want to burn, especially when they had so much success against Cleveland and even the success earlier in the year against Indianapolis.

This just isn't an offense explosive enough to handle playing behind the chains consistently.

Clowney's Bad Penalty, Good Game

People are going to be upset, rightfully so, about the penalty late by Jadeveon Clowney which allowed the Colts to run the clock out and secure their win. It wasn't likely the Texans would stop the Colts, Indianapolis seemed to have the answers on Sunday, but they didn't get the chance. It is a bad moment for a player who can't win in the court of public opinion with Texans fans.

Bill O'Brien wasn't pinning it all on Clowney.

"JD's a very aggressive player," he said. "He's made a lot of plays for us, we're not going to – we didn't lose the game because of that."

Clowney had a good game though. Make no mistake about it. He was the only player credited with multiple hurries (according to Pro Football Focus) and had many near sacks and tackles for a loss. He drew the running back's attention on Watt's sack and he destroyed an escape lane for Luck on Covington's sack. The way the Texans use Clowney will never earn him eye-popping numbers. He destroys rushing attacks and makes the job of other pass rushers easier.

He's always going to be highly criticized. He's a former No. 1 overall pick who was billed as a pass rushing monster and just doesn't light up the box scores with sacks. Until he puts those up, fans will zero in on the mistakes and what isn't there. It will be an interesting stretch for Clowney and the Texans with free agency looming for him.

Luck the Class of the Division, Again

The Texans very well may never have the best quarterback in the division. Ever. The Colts had Peyton Manning for years and then ended up with Andrew Luck. Despite the emergence of Deshaun Watson, he has a tall mountain to climb to claim the crown of best in the AFC South.

Luck, is again, a superstar at the quarterback position. He's healthy. He's going to finish with career highs, or close to it, in almost every signifigance passing category. I'm also not convinced their team is even that good. Their running back situation is average at best. T.Y. Hilton is the only premier wideout for them. Eric Ebron is a great player with Luck and the Colts. Their offensive line has been very solid this season. The defense hasn't done them a ton of favors but at-times, are good enough. With Luck already paid, and huge cap space this offseason, the Colts will be a tough out in the AFC going forward.

What the hell is going on with Aaron Colvin?

Aaron Colvin signed a four year $34 million deal this offseason with the Texans with $18 million guaranteed. On Sunday, back from injury, he played 10 snaps on special teams. If he is healthy enough to play special teams he is healthy enough to help on defense. The Texans invested in him, one of the bigger free agent contracts in recent memory, and it simply hasn't worked out. Before the injury, Colvin hadn't been good. It isn't like the Texans were perfect in the secondary against the Colts. Surely something Colvin brings to the table could have helped. It is a strange situation and should be worth monitoring. Colvin had plenty to prove getting out of the shadow of the cornerbacks in Jacksonville so I can't imagine he's taking the special teams relegation well.

What are the chances the Texans lose the three seed in the AFC?

Low, but it isn't impossible. The Steelers loss to the Raiders helps a ton in establishing a lead and keeping it. Pittsburgh and Baltimore both have seven wins. The Steelers have games with the Patriots and Saints left while the Ravens take on the Chargers as their lone playoff-bound opponent. Stranger things have happened but with the Jets and Jaguars as two of the remaining opponents for the Texans, it seems likely the Texans could lock up the three seed and avoid the drop to four. Catching the Patriots gets tougher as the Texans will need to play one weekend where they win and New England loses.

I bet Texans handle their business with authority Saturday against the Jets. The Jets are going to fire their head coach at the end of the season. They may fire their general manager as well. They are poorly coached and make far too many mistakes to hang around with a good team. Sam Darnold has been a nice rookie, but he's just that, a rookie. I am not saying I feel like I need the Texans to blow out the Jets to make a statement, but a sound win would go a long way. Something similar to the Cleveland win or event the Miami win would inspire a lot of people who were skeptical of the win streak.

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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