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. 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After the Mariners came alive late in Monday's series opener to hand the Houston the loss and keep their playoff picture hanging in the balance, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Tuesday to try and decrease their magic number. Here's how the middle game went:

Final Score: Astros 6, Mariners 1.

Record: 28-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (5-3, 3.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Casey Sadler (1-2, 5.40 ERA).

Both teams trade first-inning runs

The Astros struck first in Tuesday's game, not waiting around until the ninth inning to get on the board. Instead, they jumped out to an immediate 1-0 lead after a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker in the top of the first. The Mariners responded quickly, though, getting a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning before a two-out RBI-double of their own to tie it 1-1.

Astros score five in the sixth

The 1-1 score held all the way until the top of the sixth when the Astros would flip the script from the night prior, taking advantage of some mistakes by Seattle to put up a big inning. First, Michael Brantley started the inning with a solo go-ahead homer to make it 2-1. Then, Kyle Tucker would get his third hit of the night with one out before eventually scoring after a walk and two wild pitches, making it 3-2. With two walks to keep the inning alive and put some insurance runs on base, Martin Maldonado took advantage with a big three-run home run to extend the lead to 6-1.

Valdez finishes seven strong, Astros even series

After allowing the one run in the bottom of the first, Framber Valdez recovered and put together a solid outing on the mound. He allowed just five hits total, two of which came in the first, then back-to-back singles in the fourth and a single in the fifth, while otherwise keeping the Mariners at bay. He would end up completing seven innings of one-run baseball while striking out eight. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 108 P.

After Valdez, Enoli Paredes would take over in the bottom of the eighth, working around a leadoff single to get a scoreless inning to keep it 6-1. In the non-save situation, Josh James would come in for the bottom of the ninth and finish off the win for Houston.

Up Next: The finale and rubber game of this three-game set will start a bit earlier on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:40 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Nick Margevicius (1-3, 5.35 ERA) for the Mariners going against Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.90 ERA) for the Astros.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome