Friday Stoots 6 Pack

Statement possibility ahead for Texans

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1. As the Texans now dead winning streak grew, the opponents they could make a "statement" against were few and far between. Now, some games ended up looking better and better. The Cowboys are legit and so are the Colts. The Bills are far better than first believed. Still, the winning streak didn't earn the Texans a lot of credit and the loss to the Colts elicited plenty of "I told you so's" from doubters. The defending champions were potentially the last opponent the Texans would face who was partially relevant. Even that was in danger, but then Nick Foles stepped in, did Nick Foles things, and now the Eagles are a legit opponent. Even most doubters will give Houston credit for a road win against a hot Philly team.

2. Keke Coutee and Lamar Miller remained in the limited participation part of the injury report for the Texans on Thursday. The playoffs are very close to being a lock and Houston might be locked into at least a playoff spot come Sunday's game anyway. If the Chargers down the Ravens the Texans have the playoffs to look forward to in January. That is where the focus should be for both these players. Especially if D'Onta Foreman is somehow ready to contribute. Don't be shocked to see the inactive list include Coutee and Miller or at the very least one of them. Speaking of injuries, Fletcher Cox has been missing practice this week for the Eagles. Cox is one of the best interior players in football and would be a great test for the Texans offensive line. He isn't the type of player who has to practice to play. If he isn't 100 percent he is still better than most. He could destroy the Texans offensive plan with his inside prowess.

3. Jadeveon Clowney embracing his role with the Texans is refreshing.

"Probably moving around a lot more," Clowney said as an answer to what he has improved on this year. "They move me around more than I've probably ever moved. I've played more linebacker this year than I've played in the past four years, but whatever I can do to help this team, I'll do it. I'll line up over the nose, guard, anywhere."

I can remember it wasn't that long ago Clowney said, somewhat joking and somewhat serious, he didn't love mixing it up with guards and centers. He's dominating those players regularly and the Texans have moved him all over the place and let him just wreck offenses. It has been really fun to watch one of the freakiest athletes in the NFL play free and ferocious.

4. Pay very close attention to the New England Patriots this weekend. If the Patriots are going to be the typical Patriots they should run through their last two opponents which are the Bills and Jets. Both games are at home and despite some late season life to two teams headed nowhere in 2018 the Patriots, and Tom Brady specifically, should handle both of them if they are getting back to their usual level of play. If you see New England struggle in both of these games it may be a sign they're more vulnerable than ever. Especially important in keeping the the bye for the Texans and a potential divisional showdown with New England.

5. The Dallas Cowboys went from comfortable to nervous in just one week. They turned in a horrid performance against the Colts, albeit with little to play for in that game having seemingly locked up a home game in the playoffs. Philadelphia made it interesting though beating the Rams and putting some pressure on the Cowboys. Now, Dallas has to lose out and the Eagles have to win out for Dallas to slip out of the playoffs. It would be important to show a little more life on offense than last week against the Colts. The Buccaneers aren't very good; it should be a bounce-back for the Cowboys.

6. I hope you are playing in your fantasy football championship this weekend. I believe the fantasy season is so crazy at the end of the year it should end week 16 of the NFL season, not the final week. Most teams aren't resting players before the last week. I also believe you should get some, if not all, of your entry fee back for making the fantasy playoffs. It is a fun wrinkle my big league added years ago and it keeps people who start slow in the hunt all year. Most of all, have fun with fantasy football and enjoy watching football.

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It's easy to blame Bill O'Brien for the Texans woes. He is a lousy GM, a below average play caller and his offense is boring, predictable and ineffective. Not once has he had a top 10 offense in the league. So he does not get a pass here.

But Deshaun Watson shouldn't, either.

Last year, Watson was in the MVP conversation entering the game in Baltimore. Four of the nine games he played before that, Watson had an ESPN Total QBR over 85, which is playing at an elite level.

Since that 41-7 debacle (where his QBR was 13.6), Watson has played 10 games. He has topped 85 just once (and barely - 85.6) in the win over the Patriots. While QBR is not the be all end all, it shows a trend. And before you blame the talent around him or the ridiculously stupid DeAndre Hopkins trade, eight of those games were with Hopkins in the lineup.

Over his last 10 games, Patrick Mahomes has done it five times (and just missed last week at 84.7). Lamar Jackson has done it six times in his last 10. Russell Wilson is six for his last 10. Dak Prescott? Three. Aaron Rodgers? Three. Ryan Tannehill? Three. Josh Allen? Two. Lamar Jackson led the league last year with an 83 for the season. Watson was sixth at 71.3. To be a top 10 quarterback, you had to average 64.1. In two games this season, Watson sits 20th, about where he was over the last six regular season games and two playoff games last year.

In essence, Deshaun Watson - who often gets compared to those players - is not on their level. Yes, O'Brien has a lot to do with it, but it's also time to start looking at Watson's performance and regression as an NFL quarterback.

In 2018, Watson had four such games. In 2017, four in six starts. And now ONE since that Baltimore game. In fact, he has topped 80 just once in that stretch, and 60 just three times.

What it tells us is Watson has been an average quarterback over his last 10 starts. The Texans invested heavily in an offensive line to protect him. They have added depth at WR but a net loss without Hopkins. Elite quarterbacks turn in performances like that roughly half the time. Getting more consistent has always been an issue for Watson. But since that Baltimore game, he has not been close. And he is being paid to be elite.

In the end, O'Brien is still the main culprit. He has hand picked all the players around Watson, he designed the offense, and he controls everything.

But it's time to quit giving Watson a pass. Right now, he is part of the problem.

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