From red zone to third down there's plenty of similarities in the two teams

Texans and Raiders not too different ahead of Sunday showdown

Texans Deshaun Watson
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Friday Stoots Six-Pack gets you ready for the Sunday afternoon game against the Raiders.

Raiders reject to Texans key player

The Raiders decided to dump the former first-round pick to get "younger" according to Jon Gruden.

The Raiders have decided to recently move on from top picks Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack so I expect the Texans to get more than enough value out of Conley to validate the use of the third-round pick to get him.

Bill O'Brien mentioned the 2017 draft process let them know a lot about Conley and you can definitely see the Texans moving towards the type of cornerback they see themselves needing in the current NFL.

As Conley said above, he's a man corner. Lonnie Johnson said he loves to play press man when he was drafted. Bradley Roby can play man with the best of the Texans defensive backs. They still have some zone plays, but they want to get nasty with the wideouts they will see.

I am excited about Conley. I liked his game coming out of Ohio State and the Buckeyes have had plenty of solid defensive backs in recent years. He doesn't have to be a star, just be reliable.

Red zone woes for both teams

In the last three weeks, the Raiders and the Texans are the two worst teams in red zone defense. Only Miami is worse than both teams when considering the whole season. This could be pretty interesting on Sunday. The team that can get a stop in the red zone might win.

The Texans had the best red zone offense in the NFL ahead of last week's game but struggled to showcase that effectiveness against the Colts dropping to fourth in the NFL after settling for a field goal

Last week Derek Carr fumbled trying to do too much on the goal line. He also threw an interception and the team turned it over on downs trying to punch it in. The Raiders will leave points out there so if the Texans can keep the pressure on them they could overwhelm them.

Thrillers on third down

Oakland converts 50 percent of their third downs. The Texans convert about 49 percent. They are two of the top four teams in the NFL.

Oakland sets themselves up with a solid rushing attack. They don't face a lot of third and long situations via their ability to stay on schedule with their offense. On the rare occasions they face third and long Derek Carr isn't afraid to try to make a big play. Last week he hit Keelan Doss for a big play on 3rd and 11.

Houston gets there by staying on schedule but they also have a dynamic quarterback that can cover up some of their issues when they don't succeed on first and second down.

With both of these defenses struggling and the offenses succeeding the way they have been long drives and points might shorten this game up for both sides. Extended drives would do wonders for loosing up each team's defense late.

Raiders can't make Texans make a mistake

The Raiders have forced 5 turnovers all season. They can not turn teams over. They recovered two fumbles and caught two Chase Daniel interceptions. The other was a Jacoby Brissett interception.

That's it.

Not to say the Texans are amazing, they have just 10 turnovers, but the Raiders lack the talent needed to turn teams over. Meaning, they only feast on other team's mistakes.

If the Texans play a clean game and could get Oakland to make a rare mistake, they don't turn the ball over much themselves, it would go a long way in making sure they get a win.

Josh Jacobs can ball

The Raiders rookie running back is eighth in the NFL in rushing after just six games with Oakland. Five of the seven players in front of him have all played at least seven games.

He is banged up right now, but said this week he didn't have to practice to play on Sunday. If he can't go, the Raiders are nowhere near as dangerous or effective on the ground. If they can't run on the ground, Carr will have to take more chances and they don't have the talent to stick around in a shootout.

In addition to Jacobs, the Raiders are banged up from center to right tackle. Wideout Tyrell Williams might make a return though so that will be the best weapon on the outside the Raiders have had since he was hurt.

Tearing down the Waller

​The best weapon in the Raiders passing attack is tight end Darren Waller. He has an incredible story and earlier this month got a new contract to stick around with the Raiders. Easy guy to root for on any given day.

Waller has the sixth most catches without a drop this season. He's 16th in receiving yards which is third among tight ends. He only has a couple of scores, but he can get the Raiders in position.

With the success Eric Ebron had last week, Waller could be a problem. A healthy Tashaun Gipson would go a long way in slowing down the big tight end weapon. He, unfortunately, isn't healthy yet. So slowing down Waller could be tough.

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

Fix the rotation

Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

Another option would be to call up A.J. Blubaugh from Sugar Land. The 24-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched this season for the Space Cowboys and could be a necessary depth piece to add to the rotation.

Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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