AFC SOUTH CHAMPIONS

Texans wrap up successful regular season with another grind-it-out win over Jags

Deshaun Watson (left) and Nick Martin lifted the Texans to victory. Bob Levey/Getty Images

It might not be the final result they were hoping for, but the Texans put a wrap on a successful regular season on Sunday.

The Texans took care of business in their finale, dispatching a hapless Jacksonville Jaguars team 20-3 in typical grind-it-out fashion. The Texans defense locked down a bad offense and the game was never really in doubt.

The end result is the Texans finish with an 11-5 record, the best of the Bill O'Brien era. They win the AFC South for the third time in the last four years and will host a first-round playoff game next week against a familiar foe - Tennessee or Indianapolis.

They were unable to clinch a first round bye, but considering they started the season 0-3, the season has to be considered a good one, and now attention turns to the playoffs.

So what is the ceiling? Their first-round matchup will be tough, but that's the playoffs. A win there and they will head to a familiar place - New England - where the season has ended for them several times in the past.

But it is not ridiculous to think at some point they could pull off a victory in Foxboro. Deshaun Watson is clearly healthy and when teaming with DeAndre Hopkins gives them a fighting chance against anyone. Watson almost willed the Texans to victory in Philadelphia last week, and turned in a workmanlike effort in the win over Jacksonville. He completed 25 of 35 for 234 yards and added another 66 yards rushing with a touchdown. Hopkins was once again spectacular, with 12 catches for 147 yards going up against one of the best corners in the NFL, Jaylen Ramsey. Watson once again did not turn the ball over.

The negatives? Watson again took too many sacks. The Jaguars got to him six times and pressured him on several others. Many times, Watson's sacks are on him, but the bulk Sunday came from shaky offensive line play.

The halftime commentators made a good point; those negative plays will hurt against teams that can score. And that is what awaits the Texans in the playoffs.

The old concerns will be there, too. The offensive line just is not good enough to hold up against a quality defensive front. The Texans will have to overcome that to make a deep playoff run.

While the Texans corners played well on Sunday without Jonathan Joseph, better teams with better receivers and quarterbacks will likely feast on them.

The Texans were better than the past two weeks, but still were not great in the running game other than Watson, as Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue combined for 68 yards on 20 carries. When they run the ball effectively, they can compete with anyone. But the running backs have not been good for almost a month.

However, those are issues for next week and potentially beyond. On Sunday, the Texans wrapped up a nice season and won an AFC South that is no longer a joke.

The AFC itself is now there for the taking. Are the Texans good enough? Probably not, but they are in with a chance.

After that 0-3 start to the season, that is quite the accomplishment.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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