MATT HARAB

4 NFL games to watch this weekend not involving the Texans

The Jaguars hope to ride their defense against Dallas. Jacksonvillejaguars.com

There are certain games over the course of the season that you simply cannot lose if you want to seriously consider yourself contenders for the playoffs.  The Texans have one of those games against the Bills this weekend. If they are for real, they get back to .500 this weekend and ride a three-game winning streak into the biggest game of the season on the road against Jacksonville next week.  Make Josh Allen eat grass. I want to see J.J. Watt set up a tent and a campfire in the backfield this weekend. This front seven should DOMINATE Sunday in what is hopefully a statement game for the Texans at home. Here are four must watch games other than the Texans we must pay attention to on Sunday.  

Cowboys vs. Jaguars

Without a doubt, this game is a must watch if for no other reason than Houstonians want to see Dallas lose again. But in all honesty, the Cowboys have a stingy defense as the Texans discovered last week.  How does Jacksonville’s running game look? No Leonard Fournette. T.J. Yeldon is playing, but he’s banged up. They literally signed Jamaal Charles off the street this week. An area where Houston can really take advantage next week in Jacksonville is making Blake Bortles HAVE to throw the football. Put them into third and long situations by stopping the run. That’s how you can beat Jacksonville. We’ll see if Dallas can do that to them Sunday.

Ravens at Titans

The second team above the Texans right now is Tennessee.  I do not buy this squad at all as legitimate playoff contenders.  They have got to fall off the cliff at some point right? It could start this week against an angry flock of Ravens coming off a loss in overtime to Cleveland, a game where they failed to score a touchdown.. Houston doesn’t play the Titans again until Nov. 26, however the Titans free fall could take place over the next four weeks. This game against the Ravens, at the Chargers next week, at Dallas the following week and then home for New England.  Texans fans should be waving the purple flag this weekend high and proud.

Chargers at Browns

If you are being completely honest with yourself as a Texans fan, you are thinking Wild Card is PROBABLY the path into the playoffs. Jacksonville has an elite defense and although I cannot wait to see if they can pull the upset off next week, at this stage in the season the probable path into the postseason is as a five or six seed.  Both the Chargers and Browns are in that situation with Kansas City flying high, and the Bengals in first place in the AFC North. These are two teams right here who could be competing at the end of the year with Houston for a way into the playoffs. I am curious how they stack up against each other. Texans fans want Cleveland to win this game, as they have the worse record of the two and are the worse team in my opinion.

Chiefs at Patriots

I know you have work on Monday. I get it. But go in tired, call in sick, I don’t really care.  But WATCH THIS FOOTBALL GAME. His Highness Brady vs. the next biggest thing. This will be the best game of the weekend, and I hope it ends 38-35.  I don’t really care which way, but if you want to see two offenses to be jealous of as a Texans fan then watch. Butt in couch. Beer in hand.

Oh yea, and raise that beer to one more fact. The Texans after an 0-3 start are ABSOLUTELY still relevant.  Sunday’s don’t suck. Cheers.

 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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