Vikings 31, Texans 23

Texans' descent into Bill O'Brien hell continues in 31-23 loss to Vikings

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The Texans dropped yet another game, falling to 0-4 after losing to the Vikings 31-23. It was a 2020 version of the Texans greatest hits: Deshaun Watson was slightly above average, they couldn't run the ball when it counted, they couldn't stop the run, and they were dominated by the run late in the game. Five observations from the loss:

1) You can't win the turnover battle if you don't get any. The Texans failed to get a turnover for the fourth straight game. You simply can't win football games without winning the turnover battle on occasion. And the Texans were never close to getting a pick or a fumble. Turnovers can be random, but zero in four games? Pathetic.

2) The run defense still sucks. They were always going to struggle against Dalvin Cook, who had 130 yards on 27 carries. As a team the Vikings rushed for 162 yards. But it doesn't really matter who the Texans are playing; they simply can't stop the run, and they haven't been able to for two years. So expecting something different at this stage is silly. The Vikings ran the ball down the Texans' throats down the stretch, a common theme in this awful season.

3) Deshaun Watson is not special right now. His descent into mediocrity continues. He had a solid game - 20 of 33 for 300 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. But he wasn't great. And the Texans need him to be great to win games. Whether it is just a bad scheme or Watson is not playing well, he is simply not good enough right now. He missed a lot of easy passes, especially in the first half, and his brilliant plays late were not enough to make up for it.

4) Bill O'Brien is still a mess. He appeared to take play calling duties over again, and it simply did not work. O'Brien is just not skilled enough to be a GM, head coach and OC. He might not be skilled enough to be any of them. At this stage, Texans fan is stuck with him, so it really doesn't matter that he is awful, but week after week he gets exposed. His insistence on running the ball even when down late in the game is insane. His overall play calling was spotty and inconsistent, just like it has been his entire career in Houston.

5) They ran the ball better, but...It wasn't good enough. They had 96 yards on a 3.7 average, but most came late in the game when the Vikings had a lead and wanted to stop the pass. The Texans have to figure this out or they will not beat anyone.

The bottom line: The Texans deserve to be 0-4. They have been outplayed in all four games. It's hard to see this as much more than a five win team right now. O'Brien got what he wanted - full control - and this is the result.


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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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