FRIDAY STOOTS 6 PACK

Watt and Luck, standout rookies headline Sunday's matchup

Andrew Luck will be a problem. Credit: Jonathan Ferrey

The Texans host the Colts on a loaded NFL Sunday. Here is the Stoots Six-Pack for this week with a bonus shot of college football for you.

1. The Colts have the best offensive line as far as protecting quarterbacks in the AFC. They are only one off the best mark in the league which is held by the Saints. Just 14 sacks allowed in 12 games but four in the last two games. They had a streak of five games in the middle of the season of no sacks allowed. The offensive line was healthy and the scheme, as J.J. Watt mentions, is perfect for keeping Luck safe.

"He gets the ball out of his hands quick," Watt said. "He knows where to go with it to get it out of there. He can also move around a bit. So, he's done a good job and they've done a good job with their scheme and protecting him and things like that."

Luck absolutely SHREDDED the Texans earlier in the year. Romeo Crennel has to adjust to what the Colts can do and really make them pay for the quick game they lean on. If he doesn't it could be a shootout on Sunday.

2. Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue, along with Deshaun Watson's legs, have the Texans with one of the best statistical rushing attacks in the game. Sometimes the stats are deceiving but this has actually been a great element in recent weeks. Miller has been on track to have the best season of his career. Blue has been more efficient than at any point in his career. Watson's legs are a weapon again after being a secondary thought in the middle of the season. Now, D'Onta Foreman is close to being ready.
I say close to being ready because I am just not sure where he is and what to expect. More often than not an Achilles injury for a running back leads to a regression in overall talent. Not to mention he has played very little football in the NFL. It just isn't a mix which leads me to believe he will be contributing this season. It's OK. The current crop has been more than enough for what the Texans are looking to do but Foreman should be active on gameday just in case.

3. The defensive rookie of the year is playing in this game and unfortunately for the Texans, it isn't Justin Reid. Don't get me wrong, Reid has been a monster. He's by far one of the best rookies but he isn't quite the best. Indianapolis linebacker Darius Leonard has a line on winning the award. Leonard leads the league in tackles. He's second in the league in forced fumbles. He has the second-most sacks by a rookie. I love what Reid has brought to the table but there are so many playmakers that help him. Leonard is the best player on the Colts defense already. Reid has been fantastic, Leonard, has been better. He will be an annoying mainstay in the AFC South for years. But, so will Reid for the Texans opponents.

4. Thanks for nothing Jacksonville. The Texans can't clinch the AFC South on Sunday. When a team has such big personalities like Jacksonville has, there was bound to be some quit opened up as their season went off the rails. We saw it on Thursday night. We also saw a totally inept offense. I have to imagine Doug Marrone is going to be fired. The offense is his side of the football and despite being saddled with Blake Bortles it has always looked suspect. If he is let go, there will be a long line of coaches hoping to maximize the talent there. They will just have to manage the personalities.

As far as the AFC South, I will let Jadeveon Clowney handle the Titans win on Thursday night: "We don't care about nothing that the Titans have going on. All we have to do is win this game and we'll clinch. We just need to win out. We don't have to worry about clinching anything."

5. The Cowboys have the longest win streak in the NFC after they pushed theirs to four at the expense of the Saints win streak of nine. They started this current run against the Eagles. The defending champs have struggled mightily but have wins against two straight division opponents. They head to Dallas looking to make it three in a row and take over first place in the division. It will be no easy task. The Cowboys defense is amazing and if their offense gives them anything they're a tough out. This should have been flexed to Sunday Night Football instead of the Rams and Bears. The winner of this game likely wins the NFC East and guarantees themselves a playoff spot.

6. Speaking of Sunday Night Football, let's see what kind of havoc Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald can cause on the big stage. Donald is running away with defensive player of the year while Mack has picked it up after a midseason dip in production. Mitchell Trubisky returns to the lineup for the Bears while Jared Goff is coming off a poor performance against the Lions. The Rams have already clinched their division but they have to hold off the Saints for the top spot in the NFC. This is a solid Sunday Night Football matchup and barring some creative flex scheduling, the best one left on the schedule.

Bonus Shot of College Football! Despite college football's regular season being over and the bowl games the last vestiges of the season remaining, this is actually a nice college football Saturday. I know what you're thinking, it is just Army-Navy, but, I assure you this game is worth it. I truly encourage every college football fan to attend this game. It will be cold and you have to get there early, but watching Army and Navy march into the stadium is amazing. The game is intense and you won't see more respect between two opponents than when Army and Navy line up for this one. The Midshipmen had won 14 straight before the Black Knights took the last two in thrilling fashion. After this throwback matchup, the Heisman Trophy is presented in what should be the tightest race since 2015 when Derrick Henry bested Christian McCaffrey.

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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