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 dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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