4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

Divisional Round headaches, and World Power Rankings of the Week

So the Houston Texans made it to the second round of the playoffs again. Pretty exciting stuff, as long as you don't factor any history into it.

If you're like me, you can't help but peer ahead to the weekend ahead without at least one eyebrow raised in anxiety.

Vegas be damned, I'm not even talking about the odds. A team with a QB like Deshaun Watson always has a chance, even when they don't. My concern lies beyond the football field.

The week before New Years I found myself thinking back to where I had spent every New Years Eve for the past decade. It started out fascinating, with locations all over the country and world, but has since been reduced to house parties and ball drops at bars. It's not where but with whom though, right?

So when Deshaun Watson did his best Nightcrawler impression in overtime to set up a first round-advancing field goal, I found myself repeating the same exercise.

Where was I during the Texans' previous divisional games?

JANUARY 14TH, 2017, Texans versus Patriots. WEST ALABAMA ICEHOUSE

I remember filling about three picnic tables up with friends, and my belly full of some of the best tacos in Houston as we all watched Tom Brady dismantle the great Brock Osweiler in a 34-16 slaughter at one of the most iconic watering holes in Houston. As the Patriots rubbed the Texans' face in the dirt, that one friend we all have that runs about a 50/50 shot of ruining the night when they show up...showed up. He arrived in a suit to the ICE HOUSE, asked why there was no liquor at the ICE HOUSE, and threw a tantrum when his sister decided not to go out on the town with him later that night. So I got to watch that unfold, and my distraction was Osweiler throwing a football. Neat.

JANUARY 13TH, 2013, Texans versus Patriots. CABO JOE'S, EL PASO

Memories of my dark days in El Paso have been mostly repressed, and luckily this 41-28 atrocity of a game was one of those same moments. I don't remember too much from New England's first playoff opportunity they had to remind us that we didn't belong at the adult table, but I did some digging and found some Facebook commentary from a much more invested, youthful Paul that I suppose summed it up:

Before the game: "Texans vs. Patriots today. Translation: if a meteor were scheduled to hit El Paso today, I wouldn't use the fallout shelter if it wasn't showing the game." How committed!

After the game: "Love my Texans. Always will. But [EXPLETIVE] you for quitting today. That last drive showed zero heart." How passionate!

January 15, 2012. Texans versus Ravens. ANGELFIRE SKI RESORT

Now this...this was the one that got this entire thought project rolling.

It was 2012 and even younger Paul was in love. Or something. In a genius move, the young soldier left Fort Bliss without a mileage pass authorization to go skiing during the four-day weekend with the supposed lady of his dreams. So they drove to Ruidoso, New Mexico to ski. And then they grew bold, and drove to Santa Fe to ski. And then they thought, "We're basically at Taos, let's go to Angelfire!"

So for no sane or logical reason whatsoever, we traveled to Angelfire Ski Resort--roughly 200 miles beyond the 250 mile limit soldiers were allowed to travel on a four-day weekend without command approval--and skied most of the day. About midway through the day I thoroughly abandoned lady of my dreams on the slopes while she continued skiing in my Mario Williams jersey. The Texans were about to kick off their first divisional round playoff game, and I was going to be there to watch it...even if it was from a bar in a lodge in northern New Mexico.

Baby J.J. Watt did his best that game, racking up 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks, but backup QB T.J. Yates was unable to hold up his end of the bargain. The Texans would lose, and I would go back to coming up with even more dumb ideas:

"What if we went all the way to Colorado?!"

We did, and then we got snowed in. We showed up a day late as a result and the United States Military offered little in the way of mercy. Have you ever swept sand off of sidewalks in the desert for 45-days straight? Asking for a friend.

World Power Rankings of the Week

#5 Dudes writing Tom Brady G.O.A.T. Posts

I'm talking about the ones where they directly address TB12 in posts as if they're directly texting him a pep talk after the loss. He needed that pick-me-up bros, way to go.

#4 Doomsday Preppers

Everyone thought you were crazy, but with what I'm sure you and Reddit both believe is the impending World War 3, the "Told ya so!" deck is truly stacked in your favor this week. So go double check the expiration date on the Vienna Sausages in your panic room, and when you get back, come get one of these crisp high fives I have waiting for you.

#3 The 2018 Boston Red Sox

Reports are coming out that apparently they allegedly cheated, and that gets you on the board since it takes at least some of the heat off of the Astros for a moment.

#2 A full week of Ed Orgeron Sound Bites

This man is a national treasure and needs to be protected accordingly.

#1 Exhibitionism for a cause

Australia is currently experiencing a once-in-a-generation bushfire that has devastated nearly 15 million acres. The tragedy has sparked a worldwide response in the form of volunteering and donations. Now while many celebrities have used their influence to garner awareness for the cause, a young woman in California named Kaylen Ward took a different route.

Ward's deal is simple: ""Every $10 you donate = one nude picture from me to your DM. You must send me confirmation that you donated"

The tweet has been shared over 88,000 times and according to Rolling Stone has raised nearly $500,000 in two days.

Genius.

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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