Houston has four potential seeds pending Sunday's result

Ranking the Texans playoff scenarios

Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Houston Texans enter Sunday's game with the Jacksonville Jaguars with a chance to improve on what is already Bill O'Brien's best season as the head man of the Texans. They have double-digit regular season wins for the first time under O'Brien and a chance at a home playoff game is still very much alive. Unfortunately for the Texans, so is going on the road as a wildcard team.

Here are the Texans playoff scenarios ranked from least likely to most likely

Top seed in the AFC by virtue of Texans win + Chiefs loss + Chargers loss + Patriots loss/tie

This actually has a decent chance to happen, but is pretty unlikely. The Texans can absolutely, and should, beat the Jaguars on Sunday but to end up as the top team in their conference they will need lots of help. Kansas City hosts the Raiders on Sunday and while Jon Gruden's crew has played a bit better lately, they don't seem to be a match for a Chiefs team that could wrap up the top seed in the conference. The other must for this scenario is New England losing to the Jets at home. New York's Sam Darnold has played great the past few weeks but that hasn't resulted in wins, just good stat lines and hope. A week to rest and then hosting a game would do wonders for the Texans in a potential Super Bowl push. It would seem most likely they would host the Chiefs or Chargers in the divisional round who would have a decent chance to beat the Ravens despite playing them in Baltimore.

Second seed in the AFC by virtue of Texans win + Patriots loss/tie

This is where the losses to the Titans, Giants, and Eagles really hurt. If any of those games had gone the other way the Texans are in the driver's seat for the first playoff bye in franchise history. As mentioned above the Texans need the Jets to beat the Patriots or tie them. That's a tall task for a bad Jets team despite Darnold's stellar play as of late. It would seem most likely they would host the Patriots after the bye who would beat up on the Titans/Colts winner.

Sixth seed in the AFC by virtue of Texans loss + Titans/Colts win

This is the nightmare scenario for the Texans. If they lose then have to wait close to eight hours to find out where they are headed the following week would absolutely stink. They would have a decent chance to beat both Tennessee and Indianapolis on the road but it would be one of the bigger disappointments in franchise history. This isn't as unlikely as the above two but it seems unlikely the Texans drop a game at home to the Jaguars when they have so much to play for in the final week of the regular season. Also, if the Texans lose it is likely a physical affair with Jacksonville and they're already relly banged up. They would then likely play the early game on Saturday as well. Absolutely terrifying to think Houston loses and is the sixth seed.

Third seed in the AFC by virtue of Texans win + Patriots win or Texans tie + Patriots tie

Hosting during wild card weekend is absolutely the most likely scenario for the Texans. This would be hosting the Colts or Titans and then likely heading to New England to face the Patriots. It is a fun road in this scenario to hosting the AFC championship should the Texans win two games and see the Chargers as the five seed win two games. I am a bit ahead of myself as Houston has to beat Jacksonville but they should do it with the three seed hanging in the air. It is Blake Bortles standing between the Texans and their fifth home playoff game in franchise history. They would host the winner of the Titans and Colts game, likely Indinapolis.

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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