3 headlines, 2 questions, and 1 bet on the heels of a Texans win over the Falcons

Watson as good as ever as line does best job of season

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Watson's huge day

Deshaun Watson was shredding record books when he started his career with the Texans. Last year, there were less records to fall but he's back to his old ways now.

Watson was incredible on Sunday and head coach Bill O'Brien put a lot of the credit on Watson and what he sees.

He mentioned Watson deserves the accolades for seeing the openings in the defense and making the right decision. On Monday he reiterated that Watson makes the plays based off the information he sees pre-snap as well as what he sees as the play is happening.

O'Brien also joked they practice the dribble fumble play all the time.

Jokes aside, Watson is clearly a high-level decision maker now. Even when the offensive line is shaky, which it wasn't Sunday, he isn't making a lot of wild plays like in his first year and early in his second year. He has just one interception this season

The Falcons did Watson a favor thinking they could get pressure with just four, but even when blitzed Watson made the right plays more often than not. Pro Football Focus credits him with one incomplete pass in eight attempts which led to 75 yards passing and one touchdown.

Keeping it clean

No sacks. No quarterback hits. Just a handful of pressures. The Texans offensive line had their best performance of the season.

It also saw the return of what is the hopeful starting offensive line for the rest of the season. Zach Fulton was back at right guard and the improvement over Greg Mancz was noticeable.

We said last week in this space they were close to turning a corner and now with hopefully health and consistency they can continue to put together complete games. Not only did they keep Watson clean but they were able to get more than a few successful runs out of Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde. Deshaun Watson's rushing isn't usually the offensive line so we don't count that in the success.

"They did a good job," O'Brien said. "They had a good week. They worked hard. They put in extra time and everybody did. I mean, again the sacks are, everybody's involved."

Class is in session

SportsMap's own Jake Asman asked Deshaun Watson for a repeat performance of what he saw from his opponent's defense and sure enough, Watson delivered.

I very much hope this continues. I also hope NFL quarterbacks will replicate what Watson is doing. Defenders too. The average football fan is smarter than ever and hardcore fans love picking up an extra nugget or two about scheme.

Can the special teams get fixed?

After what was a fairly solid year on special team last year, the Texans have been unspectacular on special teams this year.

Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn has missed three extra points and has missed two field goals this season. One of those was a 56-yard attempt as time expired in the first half in Los Angeles. Not going to crush him too hard for that, 56-yard field goals aren't easy. The other was just over 50 yards, at home, and likely should have been a make.

Again, I'm not super worried about the kicking yet, but there is definitely something to the misses of the extra points that needs to get shored up. The Texans play close games. They can't afford to give away a point here or there.

"He's got to make the kicks," O'Brien said.

DeAndre Carter became a topic of the special teams as well. He had a muffed punt with the team up two scores late that let Atlanta get in position to make it a one score game. Later in the game he caught a kickoff near the sideline. The officials ruled he was out of bounds when he made contact with the ball, which is a penalty on the kicking team, but replays showed otherwise. The Texans should have had the ball where Carter caught it as he came down in bounds and went out of bounds.

"I'm not concerned about DeAndre Carter at all," O'Brien said.

O'Brien said he believed Carter would see what he made mistakes on in film and correct them. Carter is almost a yard better on punt returns than his season with the Texans last year.

The Texans also had three special teams penalties yesterday. Two on punts that cost them 18 total yards and one on Fairbairn's final extra point that was declined because he missed it.

Can the Texans replicate the Colts gameplan?

The Colts smashed the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. They were physical and slowed the high-flying Chiefs defense to one of their worst performances in Patrick Mahomes time as the starter.

What jumped off the screen is the play of the Colts offensive line pushing around a Chiefs defense, albeit a banged up Chiefs defense, for the better part of four quarters. They controlled the clock, shortened the game, and matched their physical offensive play on defense as well.

Let's not get too excited with the Colts figuring out the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill still isn't back and Sammy Watkins was hobbled. Plus there were multiples injuries to the offensive line and even Mahomes' ankle.

I bet Sunday is a shootout

I would expect the Chiefs will give Tyreek Hill a go even if he isn't 100 percent. The injury report will be important this week for both teams as the Chiefs had a multitude of people banged up on both lines as well as the mentioned wideout issues.

Kenny Stills on the back of Will Fuller's big day would be quite the crew to prepare for this weekend for Kansas City. I don't anticipate either defense slowing down the other consistently so turnovers and big plays should decide Sunday.

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.

Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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