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Some realistic questions for Texans fans entering the 2018 season

Having a healthy J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney would be huge. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

As we approach another NFL season, I have questions for Texans fans which require honest answers. With a franchise quarterback and plenty of pieces on both sides of the ball, one would assume they are trending upward. How far does this team need to go this year and what do they need to accomplish for you to deem it a success? Let's have some fun, answer some questions, and get everyone ready for what we hope is an exciting and successful campaign.

When you look at the short history of this franchise and the season by season records, we know that the norm is 9 wins and 7 losses.  The other frustrating thing is the fact that winning the division and winning one playoff game has also become the ceiling in terms of accomplishments. In a football crazy state and town like Houston, fans have higher goals and expectations. Some experts have picked the Texans to go to the Super Bowl and others seem to predict .500 with a 2 game jump either direction depending on Deshaun Watson's health.  So I ask you, the fan, what is your realistic expectation and prediction for where the team will finish this season?

From Deshaun Watson to J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadaeveon Clowney, the health of these players will play a huge role in the success of the team. Obviously Watson's health is paramount as we’ve seen too many seasons go by the wayside when dealing with a less than adequate quarterback. Even though last season was a small sample size cut short by his devastating knee injury, what we saw was enough to believe that this was the quarterback of the future. A healthy Watson has had writers and experts predict a good season, potentially going on to win MVP As we’ve seen with the Rockets,  it’s more important to have team success than individual accolades.

What do you think of Watson? Do you expect continued progress? Do you expect a bit of regression? Dare I say it, but do you expect him to stay healthy for a full 16 games? Obviously any question that entails the quarterback also should include what your expectations are in terms of the offensive line and its ability to keep him clean. Is it formidable enough?

On the defensive side of the ball there are numerous questions that have to be asked. What do you think this defense is going to do this season? After all, two years ago it was a top 5 defense in the entire league. Last season under Mike Vrabel the squad suffered and so did the D as the team's defensive unit was bottom 5 in the league. As Vrabel somehow got the head coaching job of the Tennessee Titans, Romeo Crennel returns to his familiar position of defensive coordinator. A defensive genius known for his ability to plan and scheme and stop some of the best offices in football, he obviously needs his best players to get healthy and stay that way. Let's take a look at the key personnel and analyze where they are in their recovery and if they can stay healthy this season.

Watt is the face of the franchise and the most popular and visible player both on and off the field. The man has been the defensive player of the year three times, but he has only played eight games over the last two seasons. He is coming off a fractured tibial plateau, a major leg injury that has some questioning if he will ever return to anything close to the form that he has been known for. His rehab and recovery has gone well and he has already returned to game action this weekend in game 3 of the preseason. So I ask you, what do you expect of Watt this year? Do you expect him to stay healthy? If he does, what kind of numbers do you think he will put up? Is staying healthy good enough or do you need to see him return to form as one of the best defenders in the game?

As for the rest of the defense, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney are both coming off injuries that have the front office, coaching staff and fans somewhat worried as we get close to the start of the regular season. As important as Watt is, without these two guys the defense as a whole is nothing. Clowney saw limited action this weekend and most importantly, stayed on track to be ready on September 9. He had a breakout season last year and most importantly, was able to stay healthy for all 16 games. Although Mercilus has yet to participate in practice or games this preseason, he is said to be on track to return from his torn pectoral muscle and be back on the field against the Patriots in week 1.

With all of that said, what are you expecting from this dynamic duo? Will they remain healthy? Will they make this defense return to the top of the league in terms of overall rank and ability to wreak havoc?

As we inch closer to the regular season, I'm curious how would you answer these questions? Be honest and don't let your heart sway your head into making unrealistic decisions. It's a big year for your Houston Texans filled with high expectations and lots of promise. We all know that the biggest questions surrounding the team involve staying healthy and getting thier injured stars back to being fit and formidable. Regardless of how you respond to each and every question above, the good news is, the season will be filled with all the answers as the schedule plays out and the story unfolds. Are you ready for some football?

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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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