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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Houston drops the opener

Angels use big sixth inning to take opener from Astros

Houston's offense started hot, then went cold Monday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With a 2-1 series win under their belt to start this ten-game homestand, the Astros turned the page to a three-game set with the Angels on Monday night. Things started strong for Houston, building an early lead, but it would erode in the middle innings as the Angels would respond with a big sixth inning to take the opener.

Final Score: Angels 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 18-17, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Suarez (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (1-2)

Houston Builds an early lead

After a 1-2-3 top of the first by Luis Garcia, Houston would start the scoring in the bottom of the inning. Back-to-back walks set things off, setting up an RBI ground-rule double by Alex Bregman, giving them the 1-0 lead. Kyle Tucker lead the bottom of the second off with a double, then came around to score on an RBI single by Myles Straw, then Michael Brantley made it 3-0 with an RBI double later in the inning.

Los Angeles roars back to take the lead

Los Angeles trimmed the lead to two runs in the top of the fourth with an RBI double, but Houston was able to get that run back on another RBI by Straw in the bottom of the fifth. Things fell apart for Garcia in the top of the sixth, with back-to-back one-out solo homers trimming the lead to one run and ending his night there: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 92 P.

The Angels didn't stop there, getting two more runs to take the lead off of Brandon Bielak, who managed just one out while blowing the lead. Brooks Raley would enter to get the final out of the inning, then tried to keep the deficit at one run when he returned in the top of the seventh. It looked like things might unravel for him, allowing the first two batters to reach base on a walk and single, but he would battle back to strike out the next three straight to strand both.

Angels take the opener

Joe Smith took over in the top of the eighth, still 5-4, but would get two outs while allowing a double in his three batters before Houston moved on to Kent Emanuel, who finished the inning off. After another scoreless inning for Houston's offense, Emanuel remained in the game in the top of the ninth to keep a walk-off chance alive, and he would do so by erasing a walk to send the one-run game to the bottom half. The Astros wouldn't pull off a comeback, though, dropping the opener to Los Angeles.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Tuesday night. It shapes up to be an exciting pitching matchup, with Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.58 ERA) for Houston going up against the two-way star Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.41 ERA) for Los Angeles.

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