From Josh Allen to Minshew Mania the Texans have their hands full

Texans in London with new set of challenges

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The Friday Stoots Six-Pack is here for you to get ready for the Texans London debut. Chip chip cherrio.

London Calling

This is the first trip for the Texans across the pond. It took a lot longer than I thought it would take considering the Jaguars are basically London's team. The Texans avoided a trip to Jacksonville this year which means only two true road division games this year. They still have a trip to Tennessee.

The advantage isn't going to end up being a huge deal for Jacksonville. Two of their most important players, Gardner Minshew and Josh Allen, are making their first trip. It is a double road game, with a tiny bit a familiarity for the Jaguars.

The early start time sucks, that's not fun. But, an early morning win sure would make all of Sunday feel nice for Texans fans.

Shorthanded in key spots

The Texans didn't even take these players to London. That's already five of the seven inactive players.

The Texans will be short a player or two as I am guessing they will have more than two players who can't play on Sunday in London. I would expect Lonnie Johnson, Bradley Roby, and Tashaun Gipson to all be back after the bye week. Their absence makes for another tough game in the secondary this week though.

Will Fuller's absence is noticeable in the ability to stretch the field for the offense. A healthy Kenny Stills would go a long way in bringing back some element of that for Deshaun Watson and the passing game.

Tunsil and Tytus

Laremy Tunsil should play this weekend. The Texans desperately need him. The right tackle spot with Howard potentially being down another week is weak. The Texans eventually solved an element of the issue at right tackle with how they ran the offense late in the game against the Raiders.

The Raiders are not the Jaguars. Jacksonville boasts a much more formidable pass rush. The Jaguars have 29 sacks on the season which is good enough for third. They're a nasty group coming at teams from all angles.

If Roderick Johnson is healthy he should be the right tackle. If he isn't Chris Clark and Dan Skipper are the options. I don't expect Tytus Howard to be ready just yet despite his return to practice. However, if he is ready, wow what a boost that would be.

Minshew's Magic Mania 

Gardner Minshew is fun to watch. It isn't fun to be on the other end of Minshew making plays and kicking defenses ass.

He is a rhythm player. Most air raid guys are. Disrupting him almost always leads to the Jaguars struggling on offense. The problem is even when he is struggling he's dangerous and can push the Jaguars into a position to score.

The Texans have to push Minshew into a position where he can't rely on Leonard Fournette and the rushing attack. He's most dangerous in a close game where his mobility nearly sunk the Texans in week two. He can't win a shootout with Deshaun Watson and the Texans.

No longer the marquee matchup

The best 1-on-1 matchup in the NFL is no more. DeAndre Hopkins and Jalen Ramsey was always a treat to watch. Since the two squared off, Ramsey has a new home in Los Angeles playing for the Rams.

I don't know how the Jaguars will defend Hopkins now. Former Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye is an option surely but I don't think he will follow Hopkins like Ramsey did. Maybe rolling coverage over to him and hoping he doesn't find the weak part of the defense.

Hopkins has been a terror on first downs. If the Jaguars can't slow him down the Texans should be able to stay on schedule and get hot on offense.

The new terror of the AFC South

Josh Allen might end up being the best pass rusher to call the AFC South home since J.J. Watt. He's a monster. He is a freak athlete. He's evolving too. He's hitting his stride.

He has at least a sack in his last four games and is coming off a two sack performance against the Jets.

Jacksonville moves him around a lot to take advantage of his athleticism and match him up with defenders who will struggle with him. It is annoying for the rest of the AFC South that he slipped to Jacksonville and even more annoying that he is starting to figure things out.

The whole Jaguars front-seven is scary, but Allen might end up being the scariest in years.

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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