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

Texans in London with new set of challenges

Jaguars defense
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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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Will Blanco stay in the starting rotation moving forward? Composite Getty Image.

Coming off two tough losses against the Texas Rangers, the Astros were able to respond with a win on Sunday as Ronel Blanco was flirting with a second consecutive no-hitter.

Editor's note: This article and video were published before the Astros announced Framber Valdez's elbow injury.

Blanco has clearly been a bright spot in Houston's rotation, but overall the starting pitching has been good. One big concern in the rotation though has to be Hunter Brown. And while JP France hasn't been great, he's at least pitched well enough to keep his team in the game. Unlike Brown, who gave up an early five spot on Friday night that led to a blowout win for Texas.

With Justin Verlander hopefully ready to return in the coming weeks, who will be the odd man out in the rotation? If we had to decide today, the answer appears to be Hunter Brown.

Speaking of pitching issues, Josh Hader, Ryan Pressly, and Bryan Abreu have all struggled this season. But we're not too concerned with only ten games in the books. These guys are proven high-leverage pitchers. And Hader did record his first save of the season on Sunday, but even that didn't come easy. Hader gave up a run in the ninth inning before securing the win for Houston.

Rafael Montero and Seth Martinez are both pitching better than expected, so the bullpen could be a real force to be reckoned with once they're firing on all cylinders.

What about the offense?

We're still waiting for Alex Bregman and Jose Abreu to get things going, but the Astros offense is hitting better than they're getting credit for. They currently have the 7th-best OPS in MLB, they just need to be a little more consistent.

Don't miss the video above to watch the full conversation!

Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) with Charlie Pallilo, Brandon Strange, and Josh Jordan. We'll drop a new video every Sunday and Tuesday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.

Go 'Stros!

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