Charlie Pallilo: Rockets on record pace, NFL playoffs and more

Charlie Pallilo: Rockets on record pace, NFL playoffs and more
Clint Capela and the Rockets are tearing it up. Houston Rockets/Facebook

The Rockets hit the court in Phoenix Friday night with a chance to be a 30-win team at the midpoint of their regular season schedule. Stout. In what does not require advanced calculus, that would have the Rockets on pace for a 60-22 record. For all the success the organization has had, no Rocket team has ever won 60 games in a season. That may seem a bit surprising considering the majority of NBA clubs have put up at least one 60 win campaign. The Rocket franchise standard has stood at the 58 wins the 1993-’94 team posted before going on to win the first of the two championships of the Clutch City Era. At Phoenix Friday night then at the Clippers Monday night, not particularly interesting. The Rockets’ two home games next week, verrrrrrry interesting. The vastly improved Timberwolves visit Toyota Center Thursday, then the Warriors are here Saturday to decide the Rockets-Champs season series.

Crunch time in the NFL

The NFL quarterfinals go down this weekend. If limited to watching just one of the four games, the obvious pick of at least a plurality around here would be Saints at Vikings. We have a bunch of Who Dat fans in the area and a solid number of Case Keenum supporters. In the Monday Night Football season opener, Sam Bradford played sensationally and the Vikings rolled the Saints in Minnesota. Alas, Bradford suffered the latest knee injury of his pro career plagued by them and he played in only one other game. One man’s misfortune is another opportunity and oh how Keenum has maximized that opportunity. Just a year ago Keenum was terrible as a Ram, now as a free agent-to-be he’s looking at probably $30 million plus guaranteed. With a strong postseason how could the Vikings let him go? Jacksonville and Arizona would seem two logical suiters; the Cardinals even more so if they hire Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as their head coach.

On paper the NFC games are both more competitive than their AFC counterparts. The Falcons turned in the most impressive performance of Wild Card weekend in taking down the Rams. Now the only NFC team to make both last season’s and this season’s playoffs tries to take out the NFC top seed in Philadelphia. The Eagles’ offense was downright post-Deshaun Watson Texan-esque (i.e. atrocious) the last couple of weeks of the regular season. Nick Foles is no Carson Wentz. So, for the first time in the 28 years of the 12 team NFL playoff format, a conference sixth seed is favored at the number one seed.

In the AFC even the most devoted Titans’ fans can’t be thinking they have a good shot to stun the Patriots in New England. hence the 13 ½ point spread in that game. In October the Steelers played host to the Jaguars. Pittsburgh was favored by 7 and lost 30-9. Blake Bortles passed for only 95 yards in the game, Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions. Which one of those performances seems more repeatable? In the rematch the Steelers are favored by 7 ½. Major difference from October: Sunday’s high temperature forecast for Pittsburgh…18 degrees.

What is he thinking?

All should wish Kyle Allen good luck, but his decision this week to skip his last season of college eligibility to enter the NFL Draft sure seems odd on the surface. After being one of the multiple quarterbacks to transfer out of Kevin Sumlin’s Texas A&M program, Allen sat out 2016 and went into 2017 as UH’s starting QB. One week after completing 31 out of 33 passes in a thrashing of helpless Rice in the second game of the season, Allen threw two interceptions in a loss to Texas Tech. Major Applewhite switched QBs, and Allen basically was never seen again. Not exactly the stuff to have the pros drooling over drafting him. Allen graduated in December, so he’s well positioned to get on with life if the NFL doesn’t work out for him. It would seem that taking advantage of the graduate transfer rule and going to play somewhere in 2018 would have made sense, but hey, it was his choice to make. Perhaps Allen could sign with the Toronto Argonauts and spark a hot Ontario rivalry of ex-Aggie QBs if the Artist Formerly Known as Johnny Football winds up signing with the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Did you know that former Ags Head Coach Mike Sherman signed on last month as Head Coach of the Montreal Alouettes. Gig ‘Em, Eh?

Ice, ice baby

A hockey note, promise I’ll be quick. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights have the best record in the Western Conference. I don’t watch the NHL much in the regular season (the playoffs are the best postseason in pro sports), but that is amazing.

Buzzer beaters

1. It’s Mark Davis’s money, but Jon Gruden’s contract is absurd.    2. If I’m Jalen Hurts, think I’m leaning toward transferring.  3. Best bagels: Bronze-cinnamon raisin  Silver-garlic  Gold-everything

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Jose Abreu has been released. Photo by Brandon Vallance/Getty Images.

It's official, the Houston Astros have released first baseman Jose Abreu after almost two disappointing seasons.

The Astros announced the news on social media Friday afternoon.

Abreu had the ninth-worst OPS in baseball in 2023, and recorded a .124 batting average in 2024.

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