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 rumored to have interest in Craig Counsell. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

I'll guesstimate about 90% of you reading this have driven a vehicle before. Most of you have probably experienced a vehicle that isn't properly aligned. You're driving down the road, let go of the wheel, and it pulls to the right or left a bit. Or, you have to hold the wheel a little tilted one way or the other in order for the car to drive straight. Definite signs you need an alignment. Driving a vehicle that way will wear your tires faster and start to cause other issues.

In baseball terms, the vehicle has four wheels: owner, general manager, manager, scouting/front office. While some may say the GM and scouting/front office are technically one wheel, I'd argue that by pointing out the many times a scouting department and GM have differed on players. It happens in every sport. In order for an organization to truly move in lockstep, they must all be on the same page as far as a common goal and how to get there.

I've often felt the Astros have not always been fully aligned. Going all the way back to the Drayton McClane era, I'm trying to remember when all four tires of the Astros vehicle were perfectly aligned. Gerry Hunsicker was there for about 10 years before growing tired of Uncle Drayton's crap. McClane went through nine different managers and three GMs in his tenure as the owner from 1993-2011.

When Jim Crane bought the team after the 2011 season, he himself has already gone through six managers and three GMs so far. Now he's on the verge of hiring a seventh manager. Crane's original dream team of Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch would still be the GM and manager, respectively, had the sign stealing scandal not been blown out of proportion. He hired Luhnow to come in and reshape the franchise and they burned through a few managers while the team struggled. Hinch was brought in to finish the job. He and Luhnow did that by winning the 2017 World Series and starting a dynasty.

When Crane decided to fire them both after the scandal, it left a void. Crane wasn't always pleased with the way things were run, but he was happy with the results. Enter James Click and Dusty Baker. Why Crane thought an analytics guy like Click and an old school baseball guy like Dusty would work, I'm not sure. But it did. They brought Crane the 2022 World Series title. Click was not brought back because of his philosophical differences with Crane. Dusty came back for this past season and retired. Dana Brown was brought in to replace Click. Now he and Crane are looking for another manager.

Joe Espada seems to be the simplest choice. He was Dusty's right-hand man all these years and the players seem to love him. Brad Ausmus is another candidate, but he doesn't have the qualifications, as he hasn't won or done anything significant outside being a former Astro. Craig Counsel has been mentioned as well. His .531 winning percentage in Milwaukee doesn't strike me as someone who'll get the fans excited. Others mentioned have been Buck Showalter, Rodney Linares, Mark Kotsay, and Ron Washington.

No matter who they hire, he needs to be fully aligned with the other three wheels. Every one of the wheels needs to know their lanes and operate within them. Crane needs to be the one who ensures these guys are all on the same page. He also needs to be the one to allow them to do their jobs without his interference. Personally, I'd like to see Ron Washington hired. “Uncle Ron” may be 71 years old, a few years younger than Dusty, but he's a guy players love. If not him, Espada is the clear choice, according to Ken Hoffman.

Whenever you get a new tire, you need an alignment and to balance them. This helps ensure a smooth ride. The Astros have a window that'll remain open the next couple of years at least. I'd hate for them to spend those years veering one way or the other and unnecessarily wearing out the tires. I wonder if Crane will opt for the road hazard protection warranty when he buys the new tire? Hopefully, he has run-flats, just in case.

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