4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

When it comes to Houston sports, believe the hype

Tim Warner/Getty Images

I'm not going to stop you if you want to keep listening to everyone trash Houston sports. It's pretty easy to find at this point. I'm also not going to spend another week complaining about it or defending it. It's becoming repetitive and lazy.

While all of this is going on, people are forgetting that there is plenty to be excited about with the Houston sports scene.

Small ball with big promise

The Rockets are looking poised to make another strong second half push for the second season in a row, but the difference this time is just how much it's going to bother basketball purists. The past two seasons prior, the Rockets made respectably deep runs in the playoffs on the heels of James Harden, reliable three-point shooting, and a center that was faster than any other traditional center.

So what did the Rockets do? They replaced the fast center completely and pushed all their chips into a full time small ball rotation the likes of which the NBA hasn't really ever seen.

Small ball lineups are nothing new. Complete dedication to a small ball lineup as your primary starting five is. It's weird. It's different.

It's working.

The last time former Rocket center Clint Capela took the floor was a January 29th loss to Portland. Since then, the Rockets have lost two games. TWO. One was a beat down against a short-handed Rockets team, and the other was lost on a last second buzzer-beater. In the last four games since the All-Star Break, the Rockets have won by 30, 10, 11, and 28 respectively.

This small ball approach is built solely with the post season in mind. It would take a crazy turn of events for the Rockets to find themselves outside of the playoff picture, so it shouldn't alarm anyone if the catch a few losses here and there while they finish ironing out what few wrinkles are left. The postseason teams Houston are likely to face rely on one big man or another, and all would be rendered virtually unplayable in a seven game series because they just wouldn't be able to keep up.

The days of Harden dribbling the air out of the ball are over. This is a team that has completely evolved to play through Russell Westbrook and has become infinitely more watchable as a result.

Roughnecks are a tough out

Let's shift our focus to a team that has never lost a game in its entire existence. Yea, it's a corny dad joke, but it's also fun, and true, and I'll wear it out until I can't.

Hyperbole or no, the brand new Houston Roughnecks are 3-0 to start their season and look like the team to beat in the XFL. The last time the Texans started a season 3-0, Matt Schaub had yet to be run out of town, Arian Foster hadn't even considered a professional career in rap, and Andre Johnson was only two years removed from serving Courtland Finnegan a three piece knuckle sandwich.

2012. The year was 2012.

In the XFL, defense just is what it is. The rules are designed to make scoring easier, so it really just depends on the day. From a betting perspective, it's best to take the over until further notice.

On offense though, the Roughnecks are obscene. Houston leads the XFL in offense, with 13 touchdowns scored in the first three weeks. All of this is behind the arm of PJ Walker, who is currently averaging roughly 250 passing yards per game and has accounted for 11 of the aforementioned 13 TDs (10 through the air, 1 rushing). The "MVPJ" shirts are already available to find on the internet.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Cam Phillips is looking more and more like a "one and done" XFLer, especially after last weekend's 8 reception, 194 yard, 3 TD performance. Phillips currently leads the league in receiving yards and touchdowns.

It doesn't matter what league we're talking about, those are fun numbers to watch guys put up. If you STILL haven't given the XFL a chance, you should. It's way too much fun, and they play Dallas this weekend.

This weekend in Houston

It's PACKED.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest (Cook off) - Vegetarians can skip ahead. If you're a real Houstonian, you know that the real party at the rodeo is Cook off. Your Facebook is about to be flooded with friends either searching for or offering wristbands. They're referring to cook off and they're as good as gold if you can get your hands on them. Most of the time a wristband equals all you can eat and, more importantly, all you can drink. If you're invited, get there.

Overwatch League - For the first time since its inception, the Blizzard smash hit video game Overwatch brings their entire e-league into Houston for a weekend of season play. The tournament takes over Revention Center downtown on Saturday and Sunday, and wristbands can be purchased for single day or weekend passes. This is Houston's first opportunity to see their hometown Outlaws take on the competition live without leaving the city. Houston's first match is Saturday vs London, and Sunday vs Toronto.

Houston Dynamo vs LA Galaxy - It's the season opener, and LA is bringing in their latest big name soccer import in Mexico's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. Expect a huge crowd for both reasons.

What to watch this weekend

Rockets at Celtics, Saturday, 7:30 pm (ABC)

Roughnecks at Dallas Renegades, Sunday, 3:00 pm (FS1)

4 Downs of the Week


1st down - A unicorn flying over a double rainbow. Actually, something we all assumed was even less likely:

I could cry right now.

2nd Down - Flat Earther proves that natural selection is a thing


3rd Down - I'm mad, but I want one


4th Down - Apples are (for) good

In a recent interview with Rian Johnson, the Hollywood director provided an interesting bit of trivia to IndieWire. According to Johnson,

"I don't know if I should say this or not, not because it's lascivious or something, but because it's gonna screw me on the next mystery movie that I write. But forget it, I'll say it, it's very interesting. Apple, they let you use iPhones in movies, but, and this is very pivotal, if you're ever watching a mystery movie, bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera. Every single filmmaker who has a bad guy in their movie that's supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now."

That's right. I've never, ever seen a bad person use an iPhone.

4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

WrestleMania 36 for beginners, because what else is on - Part 2

Royal Rumble in January is the beginning of the road to WrestleMania. Photo By Paul Muth

The following is part 2 of a two part guide to watching WrestleMania for people who don't normally watch wrestling.

Part one can be found here.

Let's get back to it:

Singles Match: Kevin Owens

vs Seth Rollins


The skinny

Seth Rollins has been an outspoken on obnoxious bad dude with a big old posse that beats up every one and plays dirty, win or lose. Kevin Owens is out to "shut Rollins up," and has been harassing him and interfering in matches since. They've been building this match up for some time, so it should be pretty good.

Who should I root for?

Personally I don't like either of them. WWE continues to push Rollins on fans, trying angle after angle and it's exhausting. Plus, he's glove guy. I don't like glove guys. Owens is supposed to be the guy you root for, but I can't root for anyone who uses Stone Cold Steve Austin's signature stunner move. Can't do it.

Prediction

Owens wins because he hasn't been great in WrestleMania matches and I figure they'll throw him a bone this year.

Raw Tag Team Championship -- The Street Profits (Champs)

vs Austin Theory & Angel Garza

The skinny

The Street Profits just recently won the belts, and the original match was supposed to be against newcomer Angel Garza and Andrade, but Andrade suffered an injury on Monday. He was replaced by Austin Theory, another NXT guy making his debut, so there's no real backstory build up to this match really. Any chance to watch the Street Profits is worth it though, so it should be fine.

Who should I root for?

The Street Profits hands down. They bring an unmatched energy to every performance, and their social media game is on point. Angel Garza and Austin Theory were piecemeal-ed together at the last minute, there's nothing there.

Prediction

Street Profits. Easy.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship Ladder Match -- The Miz & John Morrison (Champs)

vs. The New Day

vs. The Usos

The skinny

Well there's speculation that this match might not even happen, but if it does here's the rundown.

The New Day and The Usos have beef over who should get to challenge for the titles, but after the champs interfered both teams were given the chance.

Who should I root for?

The New Day are a lot of fun, but I'm a fan of just how good Miz and Morrison are at being heels. The Usos don't do much for me.

Prediction

Assuming the match happens, I'll go with The Usos I guess. The other two teams have had the belts more recently, so maybe they're trying to regain some credibility with them, I don't know.

Women's Tag Team Championship -- The Kabuki Warriors (Champs)

vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross

The skinny

The Kabuki Warriors have held the titles for some time and now they'll be defending them against the tag team they win them off of. It seems like a match for the sake of having a match, but there's talent on both sides so it should be fine to watch.

Who should I root for?

Both teams are easy to root for. The Kabuki Warriors are crazy as hell, and the chemistry between Bliss and Cross is top notch. I'm a bigger fan of Asuka's insanity though.

Prediction

The Kabuki Warriors retain their titles. They're more entertaining when they're rubbing their belts in opponents' faces.

Aleister Black

vs Bobby Lashley

The skinny

None. There was no build up to this at all. But Lashley is a big dude, and Black is an up and comer that looks like WWE is trying to give a huge push to.

Who should I root for?

Black for sure. He's got the whole dark and brooding thing going, but he also has some awesome tattoos and kicks people in the face.

Prediction

They put in a hell of a show and Black gets put over. Black wins.

Elias

vs King Corbin

The skinny

This is another filler match. King Corbin is a heel, and a good one, but WWE just can't seem to find a gimmick that works. Elias I guess wants to fight him. This match is just there. It's a thing.

Who should I root for?

A quick match

Prediction

Corbin wins to maintain relevancy so he can go harass another big name on the roster.

Singles "Firefly Funhouse" Match: John Cena

vs "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt

The skinny

John Cena returns for a WrestleMania match against one of the most unique characters WWE has seen in some time. Bray Wyatt is part Mankind, part Kane, and there isn't a better wrestler on the roster when it comes to mic skills. I have no idea what a Firefly Funhouse Match is, but it sounds a lot like Undertaker and AJ Styles' Boneyard Match. I expect this to be one of the better matches this weekend.

Who should I root for?

Bray Wyatt. John Cena is just here to do some WrestleMania stuff and then he's back to Hollywood.

Prediction

Cena wins, because otherwise why would he come back?

Singles "Last Man Standing" match: Edge

vs. Randy Orton

The skinny

They've done a really good job building this story line up since late January. After nine years Edge was medically cleared to go back to wrestling (real life, not story line), and did so by debuting as an entrant in the Royal Rumble. The following Monday Orton and Edge reunited in the ring on Raw, where Orton then attacked his former tag team partner and "tried to end his career again." Orton brutalized anyone coming to Edge's defense and once Edge came back it was pretty apparent that they were going to meet up at WrestleMania. Like I said, they built it up really well so this should be awesome.

Who should I root for?

Edge, are you kidding? The dude's been working to get back to wrestling for NINE YEARS. Root for him, jeez.

Prediction

If Edge doesn't win, America loses.

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