The Astros are just one win away from returning to the World Series, but can they seal the deal as the ALCS heads back to Houston?
In this edition of the Showstopper, we break down all the angles for Game 6 between the Red Sox and Astros. Plus, we dish out everything you need to know for Chiefs vs. Titans and Eagles vs. Raiders.
Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros
Friday, October 22 | TV: FS1
Houston, we have liftoff. After getting trounced in Games 2 and 3, the Astros’ offense exploded for 18 total runs in Games 4 and 5 as the Red Sox fell behind in the series, 3-2. Now, the surging Astros are counting on rookie hurler Luis Garcia (11-8, 3.30 ERA, 1.17 WHIP), who was forced out of his Game 2 start with right knee discomfort, but Garcia says his knee feels much better and he’s ready to go. Opposing him on the mound will be Nathan Eovaldi (11-9, 3.75 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), the winner of Game 2 despite his shortened outing of 5 1/3 innings. With both pitchers likely on a short leash, we could see more offensive fireworks on display.
Young slugger Yordan Alvarez has been red-hot for Houston, going 5-for-9 with 1 home run and 4 RBI over the last couple of games. Jose Altuve’s strong track record against Eovaldi might prove to be a difference-maker. The Astros’ second baseman is 6-for-19 with a double and 3 home runs in his career vs. the Red Sox starter. Houston’s top of the lineup has made a huge overall impact in turning this series around. For the Sox, it’s been the Rafael Devers Show keeping them afloat, as the third baseman has tallied 5 homers and 12 RBI this postseason, including 3 long balls in the ALCS.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans
Sunday, October 24 | TV: CBS
Not many thought the Chiefs would be trying to claw their way up from the bottom of the AFC West, but here we are. Kansas City’s defense has been a major culprit, allowing 133.2 rushing yards per game, which is 27th in the league. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who’s already thrown 8 interceptions compared to 6 for all of last season, also continues to struggle with the heavier pressure he’s faced from opposing defenses. Nobody has turned the ball over more than the Chiefs this season. Still, Kansas City is second in the league in yards per game (433.5) and fifth in points per game (30.8), so the offense remains top-notch heading into this showdown with a vulnerable Titans defense.
After a very mixed start, the Titans have racked up 71 points combined in their wins over Jacksonville and Buffalo. Leading the way has been MVP candidate Derrick Henry, with totals of 273 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns in those victories. Given the Chiefs’ weakness against the run, Tennessee could lean on Henry to pace the offense again, especially with wide receiver A.J. Brown recovering from food poisoning and Julio Jones dealing with a strained hamstring. Additionally, left tackle Taylor Lewan remains in concussion protocols, which could put a dent in the Titans’ run-blocking prowess.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Sunday, October 24 | TV: FOX
Philadelphia has lost 4 of their last 5 games heading into this battle with a Raiders squad that surprisingly is in the hunt for the AFC West lead. Following a pair of defeats where the offense badly sputtered, the Raiders bounced back in a big way with 34 points against the Broncos. With the ousted Jon Gruden out of the picture, it’s possible we start to see Las Vegas take more downfield shots like they did in the victory over Denver. However, the Eagles have not allowed a completion of more than 27 yards in the past two games, potentially capping deep threat Henry Ruggs’ upside. It’s been an up-and-down season for Philadelphia’s defense, but holding Tom Brady to just 2 touchdowns last week was a positive sign.
The Eagles should get Dallas Goedert back in the lineup since the tight end was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Goedert is expected to play a larger role in the offense following the trade of Zach Ertz to the Cardinals. In some more good news for Philly, right tackle Lane Johnson will be making his return this week, providing a big boost to the struggling offensive line. Extra time in the pocket could lead to a better performance for quarterback Jalen Hurts and his favorite target, rookie wideout DeVonta Smith.