Watt's future and the newest closer you can trust in Houston

Could Watt return and what to make of the Bucs?

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

3 Headline, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet ahead of the last road game of the regular season for the Texans.

Basically AFC South champs

Bill O'Brien doesn't hold back with reporters


The Texans basically secured the AFC South and the fourth spot in the AFC side of the playoffs with their Sunday win. The Titans can even the season record but Houston has a stranglehold on tiebreakers even if the Titans take care of their business.

The Texans would have to lose to Tampa Bay and then lose to the Titans and then they'd be in danger of losing their playoff spot altogether.

So, essentially, the Texans will again be AFC South champs short of a massive failure at multiple levels.

That will mark O'Brien's fourth AFC South championship in six years at the helm of the organization. Since he was hired in 2014, he will have made the playoffs more than John Harbaugh and Mike Zimmer. He could have the same amount of first place finishes as Jason Garrett should the Cowboys hold onto the NFC East crown.

I say all that to say this: It doesn't matter if he doesn't win in the playoffs. Period. It is time for the Texans to win playoff games, plural. They also need to take care of their business these final two weeks should the Chiefs slip up and open up the three seed for them.

Film room pays off

Justin Reid on Sunday. Bradley Roby against the Patriots with an interception. Both touted they saw those plays coming on film the week leading up to the game.

Bill O'Brien downplayed the frequency of film helping noting the looks have to sometimes be right but he did tout his team's preparedness when it comes to studying film.

I will say this, when the Texans are on, they're on. The Titans had been scoring like crazy before the game against Houston and the Texans held them scoreless in the first half and to just 21 for the game. Outside of two final Patriots drive the defense did a good job again. Hopefully the film success continues for the Texans.

The Closer

DeAndre Hopkins was a monster in the clutch. In the fourth quarter he had four catches for 98 yards. The four catches went for 25 yards, 35 yards twice, and three yards. Up to that point he had just two catches for 21 yards.

Hopkins finds a way to get open in key moments and it seems like earlier Watson either missed him or really shied away from the heavy coverage. Obviously Hopkins and Fuller's return led to the open looks for Kenny Stills in the first half. Hopkins was the catalyst for the two scoring drives in the fourth. He is sensational.

How about Hyde?

He's a thousand yard rusher for the first time in his career. He's fit better for this offense and what Bill O'Brien wants in a back than anyone else in their time in my opinion. Really nice addition by the front office when they were in dire need of a player of Hyde's skill set.

I wrote a little more about Hyde Sunday.

Can Watt come back?

Bill O'Brien didn't rule it out.

"J.J. (Watt) is working very very hard. He's certainly made progress based on his work ethic and who he's working with in the training room. We will see how it goes."

That certainly isn't a no. Not a resounding yes either. Watt would likely need to practice some in the regular season so if it was going to be the case for him to return we may know shortly.

Meanwhile, T.J. Watt is close to replicating the production from his brother's first few seasons and big brother couldn't be happier as seen above.

I bet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are about out of steam

Chris Godwin left the Buccaneers win over the Lions with a hamstring injury. That comes one week after Mike Evans had his season ended via a hamstring as well. That leaves Tampa Bay without their top two pass catchers and their only players with over 500 yards receiving. Breshad Perriman just had his best game with the Buccaneers but he's now the number one basically with the injuries.

Jameis Winston leads the league in passing yards and is second in touchdowns but leads the league in interceptions by a wide margin. I have to imagine the turnovers will come when he doesn't have two premier wideouts to get the ball to on Saturday. Especially when Tampa could need to throw the ball a ton if they get behind.

Tampa has done a great job this season fighting to seven wins. The Texans have more than enough to make sure they don't get to eight this week.

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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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