What did week 10 in the NFL tell us about the Texans?

Week 10 results that mean something to the Texans

Deshaun Watson led the Texans in rushing. Steven Ryan/Getty Images

3 Headlines, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet after the Texans bye week. What week 10 results told us about the Texans

Lamar Jackson another clear hurdle in AFC

Lamar Jackson was perfect on Sunday. Yes, it was against the Bengals, but perfection should never be denied.

The ultimate hurdle in the AFC was Tom Brady. You almost always have to go through New England if you want to play in the Super Bowl. This year began with the added challenge of the MVP Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs.

Well, sub Mahomes out for Lamar Jackson and those nasty Ravens. The Texans will likely need to go through Baltimore or New England for their chance at a AFC Championship game.

The timing of course is fun with the Ravens hosting the Texans this weekend. It is one of the best showdowns left on the NFL schedule as Deshaun Watson clashes with another MVP candidate, and likely leader for the award.

Is the NFL sure they can't put this on Sunday night football?

Tennessee isn't going away

The Titans surprised the NFL, and Patrick Mahomes, pulling off one of the many upsets on Sunday.

They have a weapon that few in the NFL possess in Derrick Henry who was a monster in the second half of the season last year. There is little reason to think he won't be a force down the stretch for the Titans again.

Ryan Tannehill has breathed life into a Titans team that looked to be headed nowhere earlier in the year. The Titans have four AFC South games left, including both of their games with the Texans. They aren't going to lose all of those and they're a threat to win them all too.

Their offensive line is shaky as it has been in a long time. Their defense is banged up but their bye week hits this week so they should get a little healthier. They have enough to annoy any good team, and as evidenced on Sunday, beat them. Tennessee might not make the playoffs, but they can keep someone else from making the playoffs.

Colts sunk with Hoyer as quarterback

This isn't Hoyer's fault. Not by a long shot. The Colts are just very limited with him and any mistakes get magnified. The Dolphins are playing their asses off but they don't have the talent that should hold offenses to 12 points.

They also have a flawed kicking game right now. Their defense is solid, very solid in fact, but if they can't put up points they will be in trouble.

Jacoby Brissett coming back is a must for them to stay in the hunt in the AFC. If he gets banged up at all, or isn't 100 percent, the Colts are not a danger to make the playoffs.

Do you think the Rams regret paying Jared Goff?

Jared Goff has the worst contract in the NFL. I am sure of it. The Rams rushed to pay a guy Sean McVay propped up after they rushed to pay their running back. The only guy they've paid on schedule and had it make sense was Aaron Donald and they played hard ball with him.

Goff has regressed and so has the whole Rams offense. They scored zero offensive points coming out of a bye. I get the Steelers have had some success on defense but that's a joke for what should be a top offense. Goff is a huge problem right now and so is Gurley. They might be saving Gurley for later in the year but those games might be meaningless.

Goff had shown very little that was extremely unique. Sure, he made some big throws and had a lot of success but there were a lot of plays most quarterbacks can make. If you are going to make a player the highest paid in the league at his position, make sure he does something other players can't do.

That's where Deshaun Watson comes in. He is special, regularly makes plays only he can make, or maybe one or other guy. Watson will likely head to the table this offseason to talk about beating Goff's deal. He will be worth it, or close to it, unlike Goff.

Do you think the Texans regret not paying Jadeveon Clowney?

I believe the answer is no.

Do they perhaps regret not paying him for one year and getting one last season out of him?

Sure. Easy to say now. He was a monster on Monday against the 49ers. The entire league was watching, including Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins who tweeted about the performance. It was a typical dominant Clowney performance. And, the first of the season from Clowney. He has been pedestrian for the Seahawks at times. Sure, stretches of impressive play appeared. Clowney's best games before tonight were against the Bengals, Cardinals, and Falcons.

Plenty of shots were taken at the Texans for dumping Clowney for a third round pick. He certainly seemed to have a bit more value than just a third round pick. Obviously if Clowney had been on board with the Miami idea the Dolphins wouldn't have ended up with so many draft picks.

2019 should have been the last season for Clowney in a Texans uniform. The defense could have used him, especially with the Watt injury. He could have built his value more in Houston than in Seattle.

Don't forget, the Texans did Clowney a favor. In his own words, Clowney said he was planning to report until the Texans told him he was going to be traded. Houston could have not said anything to Clowney, let him report, and then traded him wherever they wanted. Regardless of Clowney's wishes.

I bet the Bills have a collapse in them

The Bills have six wins already. They still have contests with the Broncos, Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers, and Patriots. All these games are very possible losses for Buffalo. Not to mention, the Dolphins are no slouches right now and the Jets at the end of the year could be rolling.

If Buffalo falls apart, it won't shock me. If they hang tough and annoy more than a few teams, it won't surprise me either. The Bills making the playoffs would make them ripe for the picking for whatever team ends up hosting them.

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Jose Altuve is on a roll. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

And then there were six. Games left in the Astros’ regular season. Three vs. Tampa Bay then three vs. Philadelphia, all at Minute Maid Park. The first three are important for the Rays as they jockey for Wild Card positioning with the Blue Jays and Mariners. The second three games decide playoffs or no playoffs for the Phillies as they try to stave off the Brewers. The Astros have nothing to play for with regard to the standings but it’s still a fun finish to another fabulous season. 102-54! Matching or topping the franchise record of 107 regular season wins would be grand, but it’s not a goal they’re going to push the limits to achieve. There are a couple individual pursuits of note this final week. We’ll hit those then get to truly important stuff to be settled on before the Astros start their postseason October 11.

Crunching the numbers

Three weeks ago I wrote that Jose Altuve needed a tremendous finishing kick to get there, but that his first .300 batting average season since 2018 was within striking distance. He promptly went one for eight over his next two games, lengthening the odds against him. In 15 games since Altuve has sizzled, banging out 21 hits in 54 at bats for a .389 average. So with six games to go he’s at .297. If Altuve gets 20 more official at bats he needs eight hits.

Yordan Alvarez’s assorted maladies sure cause some indigestion. The knee history, the hands, and now an ankle roll. Yordan is still four RBI short of joining Kyle Tucker with 100+. They’d be the Astros first 100+ tandem since…just three years ago when Alex Bregman (112) and Yuli Gurriel (104) did it.

Setting the playoff rotation

The playoff schedule is stupid in spots, dictated by television. The Astros against To Be Determined in their best-of-five American League Division Series will have game one Tuesday October 11, then a day off before game two Thursday, then a day off before game three Saturday (same is true for Yankees vs. To Be Determined). That’s ridiculous, and gives longtime Astros fans Kevin Brown nightmares (see 1998 NLDS). Unless there’s a three game sweep, game four would be Sunday. Should the series go to a decisive fifth game, there is no off day between games four and five. This impacts starting pitcher planning. Obviously the Astros go Justin Verlander in game one and Framber Valdez in game two. Almost certainly Lance McCullers gets the ball in game three. Then (unless the series is a sweep) there is a decision to be made. First, with the two off days Verlander would be available on four days rest. Up 2-1 last year, after a rainout the Astros brought back McCullers on a shorter four days rest (game one was a night game, game four a day game) and Lance blew out his arm again. If up two games to one, pitching Verlander on “normal” four days rest to go for the kill would take him out of the American League Championship Series until game three, and that would be his only starting availability in the ALCS unless you’d foolishly bring him back on three days rest if there was a game seven. So, if up 2-1 the smarter play is to start Cristian Javier in game four which has Verlander ready to go in a do-or-die game five or if the Astros advance in four, game one of the American League Championship Series. If down 2-1 and you pitch Verlander, if there’s a game five it’s the guy you passed over in game four, or Framber on three days rest.

Yes, Javier in game four, over Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia because quite simply, Javier is better. Unless Verlander or Valdez gets knocked out early, committing Javier to a bullpen role where he’d throw two or three innings vs. the six or so you’d expect out of him as a starter doesn’t make sense, definitely not with the first round schedule. Presumably Urquidy or Garcia will be on the roster for long reliever duty (carrying both would be poor roster management). The Astros have the best bullpen in the Major Leagues. Getting cute and using Javier over Ryne Stanek, Rafael Montero, or Ryan Pressly would be silly. Over Hector Neris or Bryan Abreu? Maybe. When Javier is vulnerable it’s walks and home runs that typically get him, so bringing him in in a tight seventh or eighth inning spot would be a dubious choice given the high caliber alternatives.

As for the roster, teams can change it round by round. Carrying 13 pitchers in a best-of-five with two scheduled off days is impractical. The Astros should carry Yainer Diaz or Korey Lee as a third catcher and David Hensley as an extra utility option. 12 pitchers: Verlander, Valdez, McCullers, Javier, Urquidy OR Garcia, Pressly, Montero, Stanek, Neris, Abreu, Will Smith, Hunter Brown OR Phil Maton.

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