Falcon Points

With just 4 weeks before the start of the season, here's what we know about the Texans

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Four weeks from today, the NFL is schedule to begin its season, with the Texans taking on the Kansas City Chiefs. It's unlikely there will be fans, and there is still a good chance it gets delayed, but as of today, the game is on.

With just a month to go, there are uncertainties at every corner. Because practices have been essentially closed, and not conducted as business as usual, there is no way to know how prepared teams will be. With no preseason or scrimmages, there will be nothing to use as a gauge for where teams stand, either for coaches or fans.

So what do we know about the Texans this close to the season?

1) The offensive line should be a strength

For years the worst position group on the field, this particular group has a chance to be top-notch. Laremy Tunsil should be better with a second year in the offense and a chance to work through the off-season after being thrust on the team late in the game last year. Tytus Howard was playing at a very high level when he was injured and should improve. Bill O'Brien even said he believes Howard will make a jump. "A lot of times, like I've said in the past, these guys, they do take a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2, and hopefully we see that with Tytus." Max Scharping should improve off a solid rookie campaign. Center Nick Martin and guard Zach Fulton are average at best, but if they get above average play at the other three positions, it will help the line as a whole. Not a lot of teams in the league have plus-offensive lines.

2) Is O'Brien on to something?

The Texans coach does not like to play rookies in a normal year. But he built this roster with an eye toward veterans because the preparation will not be the same. Whether it works or not, he seemed to be on the right path. Of course, that could just be a justification for burning so many draft picks in trades, but the concept makes sense.

3) Room to add?

The Texans still have about $21 million in cap space. If they don't extend Deshaun Watson, there is room to add two more veterans to the roster. If they do extend him, one more could still be added. The secondary could use some help, so don't be surprised if another addition happens before the start of the season.

4) Rookie coordinators is a bit of a concern.

Tim Kelly and Anthony Weaver might be world-class coordinators someday. But both are essentially rookies when it comes to play calling duties. That can't be a positive with less time to prepare for the season. They also have a new special teams coordinator. Playcallers need action and reps as much as players, especially new ones. It may be mid-season before they can find their stride.

5) What we can expect.

Obviously, counting on Will Fuller to be healthy is like counting on the Rona to disappear tomorrow. But if he can contribute, the offense has a chance to be explosive. Defensively, however, they have not really done anything to improve a unit that has been abysmal for the last few years. It's all guesswork now, but this should be a high scoring offense and a leaky defense. What does all that mean? It's hard to tell, but we are only a month away from getting answers.

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Yordan Alvarez provided the offense to back up more stellar pitching by the Astros as they took ALCS game 6 to advance to the 2021 World Series. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of this series in Houston then falling behind in the series 2-1 by dropping the first of three games in Boston, the Astros took over the ALCS in Games 4 and 5, sending them back to their home crowd with a chance to finish things off in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park. After another stellar performance by their pitching staff and more timely hitting, they would accomplish that mission, winning the series and moving on to the 2021 World Series.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 0

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston wins 4-2

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Losing Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Houston strikes first to start tightly-contested Game 6

After a scoreless top of the first inning by Boston's offense, the Astros capitalized on a chance to be first to score in the bottom of the frame. Alex Bregman started the two-out rally, reaching base on a single against Nathan Eovaldi for the first hit of the night. Yordan Alvarez followed, delivering his sixth RBI of the series with a double to put Houston on top 1-0.

That did not spark further immediate scoring, as the one-run score held while both starting pitchers provided solid outings for their team. For Eovaldi, he was able to limit Houston to just that single run through four frames. He returned in the bottom of the fifth, facing two batters, allowing a single, and getting a strikeout to end his night.

Garcia impresses in big start

For the home team, they were recipients of another expectation-exceeding performance from one of their young arms. Only anticipated to go a handful of innings, Luis Garcia worked efficiently and effectively against Boston, keeping them scoreless and hitless through five innings. He continued in the sixth, getting two more outs before allowing a two-out triple, ending his night as Phil Maton would enter to strand the tying run. Garcia's final line: 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 76 P.

With both teams dipping into their bullpens, the Astros took advantage of Boston's as Yordan Alvarez's dominance went on display once again. He led the inning off with a triple, then scored on a double-play ball to extend Houston's lead to 2-0. Kendall Graveman took over on the mound in the top of the seventh and worked himself into a big moment. He gave up a one-out walk, followed by a single, which put runners on the corners for Boston. He continued to struggle with the zone, falling behind the next batter 3-1, but was able to battle back to get the strikeout paired with a terrific throw by Martin Maldonado to cut down the runner from first trying to steal second, ending the inning and maintaining the two-run advantage.

Astros headed to the World Series

Ryne Stake was Houston's next reliever, and he put Houston three outs away by getting a 1-2-3 eighth. With Ryan Pressly warming, he watched and hoped that his offense could give him some more insurance to work with when he went to the mound in the top of the ninth. His wish would be granted, as after getting two on base, Kyle Tucker would put a major exclamation point on the night's offense, hitting a three-run opposite-field homer to the Crawford Boxes to push the lead to 5-0.

Pressly, now with the five-run lead, came on to try and start the celebration by getting the final three outs. Against the tougher part of Boston's order, he would get a 1-2-3 inning, giving the Astros the American League pennant, which along with those won in 2017 and 2019, puts them back in the World Series for the third time in five years.

Up Next: The Astros will have three days off before The Fall Classic kicks off. While Game 1 will be on Tuesday, October 26th, nothing else has yet been determined as Houston awaits to see which of the Dodgers and Braves will advance out of the NL, which will also dictate if the Astros will host or travel to World Series Game 1.

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