Friday Stoots Six-Pack

Texans rushing attack key to victory Sunday in Denver

Lamar Miller has been playing well. Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

The Texans head to Denver for one of the toughest tests on their schedule. There's a nasty coaching situation in the Bay Area, magic is real, and two legends show down for maybe the last time. It's the Friday NFL Stoots Six-Pack.

1. Philip Lindsay is one of the best young running backs in football and he was an undrafted free agent. The former Colorado ball carrier is sixth in yards and averages 5.7 yards per attempt. With Case Keenum's struggles, the Broncos need Lindsay and need to feed him more. They have had a timeshare for most of the season with fellow rookie Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker. The Texans bottled up the best rushing attack they faced this season when they stymied the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott. If the Broncos aren't running the ball it is all on Case Keenum and he's been disappointing this season. 

2. The Texans have to rush the football as well. They' have won five straight but they had three games as tight as can be before the rushing attack got going. They handily won their last two games thanks to their rushing attack. It opens up play action for Deshaun Watson and if he gets anywhere close to the Dolphins performance the Texans will be a tough out for the Broncos. Greg Mancz has played the last couple of games at right guard for Zach Fulton. With Fulton on the mend, I would expect him to return to the starting lineup. If he doesn't mesh as Mancz did the rushing attack could be behind the success of the past two games. 

3. With the injuries mounting and the Broncos impressive defense, this is one of the toughest tests the Texans will have all season. If Houston pulls this out they should prove to many doubters about their potential as contenders in the AFC. This is a tough one to project with the Texans previously shaky offensive line and the Denver defense being so talented. If the Texans are going to win, every point could end up being important. The Broncos held the Chiefs and the Rams to their lowest point totals of the season. The team with the most mistakes is losing this game. It's worth noting, Case Keenum has an interception in every game this season. 

4. Nick Mullens and Kyle Shanahan embarrassed Jon Gruden and the Raiders on Thursday Night Football. Many expected Gruden would have the Raiders competing right away but they're in full-on rebuild mode. Across the field, the best coach in the Bay Area, and the second best in California turned an undrafted free agent from Southern Miss into a Thursday Night Football Joe Montana. Shanahan is behind Sean McVay but on the same track. He might be a couple of years away from showcasing it to the degree the Rams are in 2018. 

5. I accurately predicted the end of Fitzmagic and Ryan Fitzpatrick's benching weeks ago. I never anticipated Jameis Winston would be bad enough to endanger his potential earnings and future in Tampa with the Buccaneers. Fitzpatrick has a chance to really make some bank with this opportunity. He's only making a little over $3 million this year but multiple years and double-digit dollars loom if he somehow could lead the Buccaneers into the playoff hunt and close to the top of the NFC South. As for Winston, he needs to stay ready should the Fitzmagic runout again. Any chance, no matter how it comes this season, might be his last to prove he is worth investment for Tampa. 

6. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers square off Sunday to finish the day of football and if that isn't going to get you hyped nothing will. Cross-conference showdowns between great quarterbacks seem to happen so rarely this is a real treat. This Packers team is fairly dangerous having just pushed the Rams to the limit. The Patriots always seem to survive no matter their hindrances. It is just the second time they have played against the other as starters. In 2006 Rodgers took over for an injured Brett Favre. In 2010, Matt Flynn was Brady's opponent. This is also likely the last time we see this matchup. The Patriots seem poised to win this but with Rodgers leading Green Bay lets hope for a close game and a few lead-changing scores late. 

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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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