Falcon Points

Best and worst case scenarios for the Texans in 2019

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It is common practice to try and predict a team's record before the season. It is generally an exercise in futility, as the reality most teams have a range of possibilities. The low range is very high for good teams like the Patriots. For bad teams like the Dolphins, the high range is pretty low.

So what about the Texans? Vegas has them at eight wins, which seems to be right in the middle of their range. The Texans are a high variance team. If everything goes right, they could match last year's 11 wins. If everything goes wrong, 5-11 is not out of the equation. So let's take a look at what could go right, wrong and everything in between.

1) What could go wrong

The schedule is brutal this year, but the good news is the rest of the division has the same problem, save two games. Still, the Texans enter the year seemingly behind the Colts, who knocked them out of the playoffs. In the low end scenario, the Colts dominate the division as Andrew Luck stays healthy, the Jaguars improve with Nick Foles and the Titans are decent enough to make life miserable on the Texans.

Now let's look at the potential pitfalls beyond that:

Lack of improvement in key areas: The Texans addressed their two biggest weaknesses in the off-season - offensive line and secondary - but did they really improve? There is no guarantee the draft picks will work out on the offensive line, and the only veteran addition was Matt Kalil, who has been hurt the past two seasons. Kalil was terrific early in his career, but has been shaky ever since. If he can rediscover his form, he is an upgrade, but expecting that or one of the rookies to excel? That's probably too much to ask. The secondary was a disaster last season. Again, pieces were shuffled, but will they really work? So if the Texans do not improve in this area, they will clearly go backward with a much tougher schedule.

Oh, and injuries: A bad offensive line almost got Deshaun Watson killed. It could happen again. The secondary will face much better quarterbacks this year. Just being the same means eight wins tops. If Watson gets hurt, and Will Fuller inevitably goes down again...They also got a healthy season from J.J. Watt last year. If they don't repeat that? Then five wins is definitely in play.

2) What could go right

The changes in the secondary and offensive line improves those units. Watson and his offensive weapons stay healthy, giving the team its best offensive production yet. If healthy all season, they have a chance to be explosive. Defensively, Watt has a monster year, the secondary shows improvement, and the Texans match up well with the tough competition on their schedule. That is a lot to go right, but it is certainly in the realm of possibility.

3) Somewhere in the middle

So what is the most likely scenario? Right where Vegas has them - eight wins. In reality, injuries are always an issue. The loss of a couple key producers could have a significant impact. They could be a better team than last year and still have a worse record. Bill O'Brien still has not proven he can coach a team at a high level. Does it happen in Year 6? Unlikely.

The good news is it should be a fun year. If everything goes right, the Texans could be very exciting. But a disaster or something in between is very much in play as well.

Football is almost here, and while the Texans enter the season with a lot of questions, there are some potentially good answers.

We will find out soon enough.

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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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