The Houston Texans forced five turnovers vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to clinch the AFC South. Right now, Houston is the ultimate dark horse in the AFC.It took a boatload of Jameis Winston interceptions, but the Houston Texans found a way to eke out a road victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday afternoon. With their 10th win on the season, the Texans clinched the AFC South division crown for the fourth time in five years. Now that they’re in, Houston is the ultimate dark horse contender in the AFC going forward.Admittedly, Houston is one of the most consistently inconsistent teams in the NFL. The Texans may have improved to 10-5 on the year, but we never know what type of team we’re going to get out of them, week in and week out.Usually, this team is led by the aerial attack connection between quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. In most weeks, we can count on this duo being able to stretch the field vertically. However, both former Clemson stars were largely neutralized on Saturday afternoon in Tampa.Watson completed 19-of-32 passes for 184 yards and an interception, as well as seven carries for 37 yards. Hopkins only had five catches for 23 yards on the day. What carried the team in Week 16 was the defense. Houston picked off Winston four times, including a 27-yard trip to pay dirt by defensive back Bradley Roby. They also forced a fumble and a turnover on downs.No, this was not one of the Texans’ better games, but a game that a good team finds a way to win. This was not an easy task for Houston, as Tampa Bay was 7-7 entering play on Saturday afternoon, playing pretty well under new head coach Bruce Arians. Even though it was far from pretty, this was a game that makes the Texans the ultimate dark horse in the AFC.On a given day, they can play like an AFC Championship contender. On other days, they can look like a team that should be picking in the top 10 of the 2020 NFL Draft. Truthfully, they are somewhere in between, as the Texans are good enough to host a playoff game as a division winner and maybe get a win or two this postseason. That’s about all you can ask for out of them.Next: Every NFL Team’s Best Draft Pick Of All-TimeThis is the sixth time the Texans have made the playoffs in franchise history, all six times coming as the AFC South winner. If the Texans can beat presumably the No. 5 seed at home on Wild Card Weekend, then they might have what it takes to give a team like the Baltimore Ravens a game in the AFC Divisional Round. Anything beyond that would be the icing on the cake for them.
Baltimore Ravens free agency 2020: Top 5 targets
The Baltimore Ravens had the best record in the NFL, the number-one seed in the AFC, and the MVP front runner. Where do they need to add in free agency?Lamar Jackson led the Baltimore Ravens to a league-high 14 wins in 2019. Operating with the league’s best offense, the Ravens looked to be Super Bowl Bound.Until the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Jackson and the Ravens ended what was a historic season with a deflating, gut punch loss at home to the Tennessee Titans. One and done.Where do they need to get better now? What positions need an upgrade? And who are realistic targets given the teams current cap space? Here are the five players that Ravens need to look into this offseason.5. Chris Harris Jr., CBUnder team defensive coordinator Don Martindale, the Ravens had a top-five defense. Through the air, they were one of the best units against the pass. However, Jimmy Smith’s contract is up, meaning they need to find another cover corner.Given the team’s current cap situation and other roster demands, spending a ton of money on someone like Byron Jones in free agency wouldn’t make sense. Rather, finding a less expensive option with upside is the key to filling the potential Smith departure.Yes, Marlon Humphrey had a breakout season and the addition of Marcus Peters proved to be a massive upgrade in the secondary. Chris Harris Jr. could be a great short-term replacement.Although, Harris would have to be realistic about his current value and asking price. He still has some good football in him. But, 2019 wasn’t his best year.When you dig deeper into Harris’ 2019 season, it’s a tough sell to a fan base determined to win a Super Bowl. Putting it simply, Harris was heavily targeted this past season. Playing in a weaker secondary can definitely burden some of the blame for his performance, which is why coming to Baltimore would make sense.No, Harris isn’t the corner he was from 2014-2016, but he is a constant competitor who would be very effective surrounded by the talent on the Ravens defense. He has been playing banged up on losing teams for a large chunk of the last three seasons.Partner him with Peters, Humphreys and Earl Thomas, and you have a lot to be excited about in coverage for 2020.
Senior Bowl 2020 notebook: Trench players boosting stock
2020 Senior Bowl practices are coming to a close. Jason Strowbridge and many other trench players have elevated their stock in a big way this week.The 2020 Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL doesn’t feature quite as much star power as the past couple of years, but there are some building blocks to be found in this class and potentially a handful of first-round picks on both sides of the ball.As the week comes to a close, who has managed to stand out the most? Whose stock is rising substantially over the course of this process?Obviously, nobody gets to the Senior Bowl without an impressive resume. Jim Nagy and his scouting staff do a tremendous job of picking the players to be at this event. Still, some guys have an opportunity to prove themselves as legit top 50 guys. Or maybe someone can go from a possible Day 2 pick to a guaranteed Day 2 pick with a great week in Mobile.There’s no doubt that some of the drills allow for a lot more glorification of guys in the trenches at practice, and that’s where the most money has been earned this week.Jason Strowbridge shows out againNick Harris, Washington vs Jason Strowbridge, UNCStrowbridge has FEASTED in 1v1s so far. He’s been an eye opener, in very excited to get to his film pic.twitter.com/0sDX2lr7ge— Matt Valdovinos (@MVScouting) January 22, 2020Jason Strowbridge capped off a stellar four-year career with the North Carolina Tar Heels by getting an invitation to the Senior Bowl, and he’s capitalized in a big way.Some scouts and analysts have been high on Strowbridge throughout and before the Senior Bowl process and others are going to have to go back to find out what they missed about this guy, because he’s been doing things like you see in the video above all week during practices.At 6-foot-4 and 267 pounds, Strowbridge is ideal to play as a 4-3 defensive end or even a 3-4 EDGE rusher in certain packages.A number of guys are also coming off of the end of their college season, and their playing weight is often much lower than their listed weight or offseason weight because they’re not spending nearly as much time in the weight room. At UNC, he was listed at 285, for what that’s worth.We’re seeing positional versatility from him this week and an ability to win in a variety of ways. ESPN’s Todd McShay said on the broadcast that he feels Strowbridge is a top-100 player.Jordan Love establishing first-round stockThroughout the season, Jordan Love struggled and underachieved at Utah State by most standards.That will happen when you’re watching a guy with a really critical eye because Love had such a great sophomore season for the Aggies before his down year as a junior.As a fourth-year junior, he’s gotten the chance to put his skills on display at the Senior Bowl, and while the fanfare here is not tremendous, this is a player too many people are talking about as a top 15 selection. Still, the talk is telling.The Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers and other teams needing a quarterback beyond the Cincinnati Bengals will likely show interest in.Love has vast potential and has shown more than just glimpses of his talent at Senior Bowl practices. There is too much first-round smoke for there not to be a fire somewhere.Josh Jones in top 32 discussionIf your team needs help at wide receiver or on the offensive line, you’re in luck.This is one of the most talent-rich classes at receiver, tackle, and interior offensive line in some time.One of the many players who should be under consideration for a first-round pick at the offensive tackle position? Houston’s Josh Jones.#Houston OT Josh Jones is the type of tackle that has tremendous upside because of the little subtle things that he already does. Watch the quick allusion with his left hand to force the DE to reveal his plan of attack prematurely: pic.twitter.com/8d1yuUM4Is— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) January 23, 2020The physical and athletic talent with Jones is obvious, but he’s been more than an athlete at the tackle position. He’s shown off what he can do with his strong hands, length, footwork, and pass protection abilities.We’ve seen all four of Mekhi Becton (Louisville), Jedrick Wills (Alabama), Tristan Wirfs (Iowa), and Andrew Thomas (Georgia) as the top offensive tackle in this class from one analyst or another, and while Jones hasn’t reached those heights, he could very well be an OT1 caliber prospect in many other draft classes. Some team might be able to sneak him in the latter portion of the first round.
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