Every-Thing Sports

Texans can build a legacy over the next three games

Deshaun Watson had an up and down day. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Texans have been around for 18 years. They've made playoff appearances and even have a couple playoff wins. Never in their history, with the exception of a couple years in the Matt Schaub era, have they been truly thought of as a serious contender. They've built a reputation as a team that's more like the bridesmaid who never gets married, but is always asked to be in another friend's wedding. Close, but never the center of attention. Always on the outside looking in. Smelling the cookies, but can't afford to buy them. You get the point.

They have a chance to change that narrative this season. More specifically, they can set themselves up nicely over the next three weeks. With games against at the Ravens and MVP candidate Lamar Jackson in a noon time must-see-tv matchup, Thursday Night Football against division rival Colts, followed by Sunday night Football against perpetual big brother in the Patriots. All three games will be paid close attention to by the national eye given the high profile nature of not only the opponents and times they play, but also because the Texans are 6-3, leading the AFC South, and have a pretty damned good quarterback of their own. But there are bigger implications at stake.

Ready for your closeup Mr. Watson?

Deshaun Watson is no stranger to the spotlight. We all know of his exploits while at Clemson, and we've all heard what his college coach thinks of him. Over the next three games, he has an opportunity to establish himself as not only an MVP candidate this season, but as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He has to outplay and beat a current MVP frontrunner, division rival, and Hall of Famer to do so. The funny thing is, it's not farfetched given the immense amount of talent he has. He has enough talent around him and the ability to elevate said talent to get it done. No more excuses because stretches and opportunities like this don't present themselves too often.

Next man up

In 2010, the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl. They also had over 20 guys on injured reserve that year as well. No team goes through a season and wins at a high level without facing adversity. The excuse of guys being hurt is the reason for not succeeding is for losers. Every player on that roster is there because they're considered one of the best in the world at what they do. There are approximately seven billion people on this planet. Only 1,952 of them are actively on an NFL roster or practice squad (give or take some on injured reserve and other lists). While the guys on the middle to back end of the Texans' roster may not be the best, they also didn't make it this far without proving themselves capable. Lose the "we have guys injured" narrative and step up to win games.

Little brother syndrome

Over the course of their history, the Texans have had a little brother syndrome when it comes to the Colts and Patriots. The Colts have owned the AFC South and they've failed miserably at trying to be Patriots South. Both of these teams have been to and won Super Bowls since the Texans have been in the league. Both have also used the Texans as a doormat to those Super Bowls. Now is the time to start putting an end to both of those storylines. The Colts are still a good team, but they aren't the juggernaut they once were. The Patriots still seem to be the powerhouse they've always been, but also have chinks in their armor. Watson is the one piece the Texans have never had: a dynamic playmaker at the most critical position. Now is the time to punch these two older brothers in the mouth and establish a new trend.

A reason for arrogance

It's well-known that Bill O'Brien can be a prick. His smug answers and general arrogance are another reason why people feel this franchise is trying too hard to be Patriots South. He's seen as a Bill Belichek knock-off who doesn't have the skins on the wall to pull off Belichek's persona. If this team can not only win these next three games, but also begin to establish themselves as true title contenders for the foreseeable furture, O'Brien's attitude would be a lot more accepted. He seems to be more pleasent when things are going his way, so maybe he'd drop the asshole act altogether if the team is winning and contending. Whether he's a nice guy or not doesn't mean much to me, but his whole schtick would be more palatable if the Texans were making regular AFC Title game appearences.

I'm not saying this three game stretch will define this franchise for years to come. This stretch can springboard them into something bigger. Finishing this run 3-0, 9-3 overall, would give them supreme confidence as well as position them for a first round bye in the AFC playoffs. They would even have a shot at homefield advantage throughout should they finish with the same record as the Patriots. Now is when it's time for your nuts to drop and voices to deepen Texans. It's time to start shaving and wearing grown man deodorant. This is when you have to get a job and start paying bills. Growing up has to happen at some point, or you're just another bum living off your parents and more successful siblings.

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Houston is back in the win column

McCullers Jr. spins a gem as Astros get a much-needed win over Giants

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

After getting swept by the A's in Oakland to end a road trip with a five-game losing streak, the Astros returned to Houston to try and get back on track. To do so, they'd need a win against the Giants on Monday night. Here is a quick recap of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 6, Giants 4.

Record: 7-9, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 6.10 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Logan Webb (1-1, 2.81 ERA).

Houston builds up an early lead

The early goings of Monday's game went very similar to the last time Lance McCullers Jr. took the mound. He would have a terrific first three innings while his offense gave him an early lead. The first run came in the bottom of the second, with Yuli Gurriel reaching base on a one-out double, moving to third on a wild pitch, then scoring on an RBI-single by Carlos Correa.

Correa would take part in a four-run inning in the third, as Houston would score two on a two-RBI ground-rule double by Michael Brantley, another on an error, then Correa's second RBI of the night, a groundout to bring in a run and make it 5-0. Unlike the last start in Arizona, where the roof opened and McCullers Jr. fell apart in the fourth, he was able to make quick work of his opponent for a 1-2-3 frame. As he kept recording scoreless innings, Martin Maldonado added another run to the lead with a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, making it 6-0.

McCullers Jr. takes a no-hitter into the seventh

While the Astros were building their lead, McCullers Jr. was spinning a gem on the mound. He allowed just one baserunner through the first six innings, which came on a hit-by-pitch. He entered the seventh with a no-hitter in progress, but the Giants would get their first hit of the night to end the no-hit bid.

Regardless, the start was precisely what McCullers Jr. needed to restore his confidence after the disastrous inning he had in his last appearance. He would go on to complete the seventh inning before Houston would go to the bullpen with the large lead in the eighth. His final line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K 0 HR, 1 HPB.

Houston gets back in the win column despite more struggles by Josh James

Josh James entered out of the bullpen for the top of the eighth but allowed the first run of the night for San Francisco via a solo home run with one out to make it 6-1. He would complete the inning and then return for the top of the ninth. He would have another rocky inning, issuing a leadoff walk before a single and double would make it a four-run game at 6-2, still with no outs in the inning and runners on second and third, prompting another call to the bullpen.

Dusty Baker would bring in his current closer, Ryan Pressly, to try and finish the game, now in a save situation. Pressly would retire the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-RBI single to make it 6-4, but would eventually get the final out to get Houston the much-needed win. With the victory, the Astros moved back into second place in the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Tuesday at 8:10 PM Central. The Giants, working with a fluid rotation, have not yet fully decided on their starter, while the Astros will get another start from Brandon Bielak (2-0, 0.87 ERA) who will look to repeat the success of his five-inning, no-run start in Arizona last week.

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