TANKS FOR NOTHING?

The Texans could play their way out of a good draft pick

Deshaun Watson could be ruined. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The Texans find themselves in a nice perch at the top of the AFC South with nine games left in the season. After the first three weeks, I don’t think anyone would have said they could reel off four in a row like they have. Of course, now everyone wants to know if they can keep the momentum and win the division. With the schedule they have ahead of them, it’s not impossible.

On the rest of the schedule, they face only two teams that currently have a winning record; the Dolphins tonight and the Redskins in Week 11. I went through the schedules of the remaining Texans opponents and can find only the Eagles in Week 16 and the Jaguars in Week 17 as teams this might be at or above .500 when they face Houston. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then yes, that means the Texans are entering a 7-game stretch that could define their season.

It’s not unreasonable to think that this team, the way they have played the last month, can win five or six of these games. The only bumps I see are at Denver next week and at Washington two weeks later. The other five games are very winnable. The formula will continue to be solid defense and an offense that manages drives without getting the quarterback killed. I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s what they did last week, and it resulted in a 20-7 win on the road in Jacksonville.

This is all great news for Texans fans. I mean, who isn’t excited about another trip to the playoffs.

But, really though?

As I watch the offensive line I wonder: is it a good idea to do so well? And before you say anything, I’m not talking about tanking. That’s never a good idea. I’m just saying, maybe they don’t catch a few breaks here and there like they have been. This division is so bad, the Jaguars were picked to win because they did it last year and they seemed to be the team best suited to survive a 16-game season ready for the postseason. It might be nice if the Texans just let that play out like it was supposed to.

The biggest problem is that winning this division will rob the Texans of the draft picks they need to right the ship. They need help on the offensive line. The priority to protect Deshaun Watson is not always easy when you’re picking 21st. There are 20 spots ahead of them in which the top offensive tackles can be selected and every year there are only about 2-4 that are worth a first round pick.

All four teams that drafted a top quarterback this year (Browns, Bills, Cardinals, Jets) are going to have draft picks high enough to steal those offensive tackles. And they just might. The Colts and the Giants are two more teams that desperately need help at the position. So, if Houston winds up with a later draft pick they could miss out on some top talent.

OK, so they don’t get a top offensive tackle in the first round. They can take a cornerback, right? Absolutely. But that still doesn’t mean a ready to play tackle will be there when they pick late in the second round.

It’s a position with potential for a huge drop off in skill level. The difference between a first round or early second round tackle and one selected later can sometimes become a long-term project. I’ve watched the Texans this year and they can’t afford a long-term project at tackle. They really need to be closer to the front of the draft board.

I know it’s not ideal when they have a chance to hang another banner in the rafters of NRG Stadium, but it might be for the best. The next seven games will either propel this team into the playoffs and make the fans crazy or they will have the season they should have and play themselves into the draft position they need for the future at offensive tackle. I’m thinking long term and would like to see them with a higher draft pick before Deshaun Watson’s career gets ruined for good.

 

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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