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 can win series on Sunday

Timely hitting helps Astros edge out D-backs to even series

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros had two losses over the last 24 hours; one a game against the Diamondbacks in the series opener on Friday night, the other the news that their recovering ace, Justin Verlander, announced Saturday afternoon that he is opting to undergo Tommy John surgery. The decision and surgery will likely sideline Verlander through 2021 when his current contract with Houston ends.

With that, the Astros headwinds continued to increase, meaning a win to even the series with Arizona on Saturday would be a much-needed pick-me-up. Here's how they did:

Final Score: Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 26-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-2, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luke Weaver (1-8, 6.51 ERA).

D-backs score two on Javier who is pulled early

Kole Calhoun, who drove in four runs, including a home run in Friday's game, would start the scoring on Saturday with a solo home run off of Cristian Javier in the top of the second, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Javier allowed another run in the top of the third, giving up a leadoff single that would move to third on a groundout then score on a sac fly, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Javier finished the third and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, but whether it be due to a pre-determined pitch count or other situation, he would not go any further, ending his night there on just 77 pitches. His final line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 77 P.

Astros grab a lead in the sixth

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff single by Josh Reddick, who would move to third after a walk and fielder's choice before scoring on an RBI-groundout by Jose Altuve, making it 2-1. Enoli Paredes was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the top of the fifth and retiring six straight batters for two perfect frames.

Houston would get to Luke Weaver in the bottom of the sixth, getting a leadoff single by George Springer, who would score from first on an RBI-double by Altuve to tie the game. Altuve would come around as the go-ahead run later in the inning on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, knocking Weaver out of the game as the Astros took their first lead of the game, 3-2.

Houston evens the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James was the next reliever for Houston in the top of the seventh, and despite getting into a jam by issuing a one-out walk and hitting the next batter, he was able to get out of it. It was thanks to a great play by Michael Brantley, who started a double play by catching a lineout and throwing a runner out at second to end the inning.

Brooks Raley had the eighth and erased a one-out walk by retiring the next two batters to maintain the one-run lead. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Astros turned to closer Ryan Pressly to get another save and finish the one-run game. Pressly would do so, as Houston would move back up to .500 and even the series 1-1 heading into the rubber game on Sunday.

Up Next: The finale of this series between Houston and Arizona, and Houston's last regular-season home game of 2020, will get underway at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) ERA will be on the mound for the D-backs, while Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Astros.

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