ROUGH DAY FOR HOUSTON SPORTS
Chiefs once again remind Texans what a real championship contender looks like
It was an unprecedented day in Houston sports history Thursday as for the first time its three major professional teams all played meaningful games on the same day. THUD, THUD, THUD. In reverse chronological order of play Thursday:
The Texans returned to the scene of the crime to kickoff the NFL season Thursday night, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City site of their thorough playoff collapse back in January. They pretty much picked up where they left off. Unlike the postseason debacle where they led 24-nothing before epically unraveling, this time the Texans took only a 7-nothing lead before getting destroyed the rest of the way. The Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champs with good reason and are going to beat most of the teams they play, but the Texans took a two-by-four to the forehead reminding all how far away they are from real championship contender status. In less than seven quarters of football from early second quarter of the playoff game to before the Texans scored two garbage time touchdowns Thursday night, the Chiefs obliterated the Texans 82-14.
The offensive line with all five starters back, underwhelmed. The Chiefs applied persistent pass rush heat on Deshaun Watson resulting in four sacks with more avoided thanks to Watson's greased pig elusiveness. The Texans had basically no downfield passing game.
Next up for the Texans are the Ravens at fan-less NRG Stadium. Then they play at Pittsburgh, then home vs. the Vikings. So 0-4 out of the gate is absolutely in play. If the games were decided by which team has the better head coach and general manager, 0-4 would be more than in play.
Rockets down 3-1
From down three games to one perhaps the Rockets have a dramatic series comeback in them. Stop laughing! Sports happen. But the better bet is that General Manager Daryl Morey's "we should win this thing" proclamation is going down as laughably and arrogantly not even close. The Rockets are good. The Lakers are clearly better. They have the two best players in the series in LeBron James and Anthony Davis and there is nothing the Rockets can do about that.
In games two and three the Lakers squashed the Rockets in the fourth quarter, in game four it was settled by halftime. The Lakers relaxed and got lazy and dumb (led by LeBron) which enabled the Rockets to close within five with just under a minute left, but that was that. The story is that the Laker defense has disrupted and flummoxed the Rocket three point bombs away attack, and defensively the Rockets way too often opened a can of quit. Sometimes when taking an ass-kicking a team can look like it gave up or didn't show up, when really it's just a matter of getting vastly outplayed. That after game four neither James Harden nor Russell Westbrook neither denied a lack of team intensity nor had an explanation for it is an indictment of a pseudo-contender.
Harden turned 31 last month, Westbrook turns 32 in November, Eric Gordon turns 32 Christmas Day, P.J. Tucker is 35. It's been a quarter century since the Rockets last won the Western Conference. There is no good reason to think the drought ends any year soon.
Astros go down swinging
We can stick a giant fork in the Astros' run as American League West champion. It's done. A miserable 1-8 road trip leaves the Astros' breathing Oakland Athletics' exhaust fumes. If the A's improbably play just .500 ball, the Astros have to go undefeated the rest of the way to win the division. At 22-23 the Astros remain highly likely to make the playoffs, though only because of the expanded format attached to this 60 game season. With 15 games to play the Astros enter the weekend just two games ahead of Seattle for second in the AL West. After two with the Dodgers the Astros final 13 games are all vs. losing teams, three of those are at Seattle. Blowing a playoff spot to the Mariners would be an embarrassment. Barring that development, the Astros will still pose a very legitimate threat to any team they face in an AL playoff series. But that bullpen that if playing darts would often miss the dartboard entirely…
1. We await resolution on the Danuel House story. If his denial of wrongdoing is as accurate as Morey's prognosticating appears right now, House was an immature and irresponsible chump of a teammate and professional. If is a very important word.
2. There probably will be an upset or at least a scare of one, but as matchups go there isn't one college football game worth watching Saturday.
3. Andy Reid is a great coach. As an athlete, he's a great coach (though he did play at BYU). Greatest athlete Andys: Bronze-Pettitte Silver-Murray Gold-Robustelli