Falcon Points

Houston has another player in the MVP conversation, and while it is a long shot, let's take a look at how Deshaun Watson stacks up

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Houston fans are obsessed with MVP awards. Maybe it is because the teams themselves rarely bring home the ultimate hardware. Maybe it is because all three major teams have had legitimate MVP candidates over the past several years. James Harden and Jose Altuve have won MVPs recently. J.J. Watt made a case a few years ago, and Alex Bregman will likely be runner up this season.

So it is no surprise that as Deshaun Watson's name starts to come up, Houston fan is excited again. The Texans quarterback is a legitimate candidate through nine games, but there is a lot of football left. The next three games will be huge for both the Texans and Watson. It's not just homerism; Vegas has him as the third favorite in the wagering at +600. So let's look at the other top four contenders:

1) Russell Wilson, +175, favorite

Russell Wilson Getty Images

Wilson has the Seahawks in the mix for a West Division title after Monday's win over the 49ers. Wilson is completing 68.5 percent of his passes, has a 114.9 rating and 23 TDs to just 2 interceptions with 2,737 passing yards in 10 games.

The Seahawks are 8-2, a game behind the 49ers and Wilson is a big part. The deserving favorite so far.

2) Lamar Jackson, +250 second favorite

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals

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You could make the case that Jackson should be the favorite. His passing numbers don't measure up to Watson and Wilson, with just 2,036 yards, but he has completed 65.3 percent with 15 TDs and just 5 interceptions and a rating of 101.7. But Jackson's excellence is in the running game; he has 702 yards and averages 6.6 per carry. Combined with efficient passing and explosive plays, he has been a human highlight reel. And oh yes, the Ravens are 7-2 and have a win over the Patriots. A head to head victory and outperforming Watson this week could put him on top, although Wilson is going to be hard to catch if he keeps playing this well.

3) Aaron Rodgers +900 fourth choice

Aaron Rodgers Andy Lyons

Rodgers will always get a lot of support if he stays healthy. A media darling, if the Packers continue to win games, he will climb the list. Green Bay is 8-2, thanks in part to an improved defense. But Rodgers has been excellent with 2,718 yards passing, a 64.5 percent completion rate, 17 TDs and just two interceptions and a 107.2 rating, so his numbers are legitimate.

4) Christian McCaffrey +900 co-fourth choice

It's hard for a running back to win this award, but McCaffrey was superb early in the season to get a lot of run. However he has tailed off of late. Still, he is the Panthers offense, with 983 rushing yards, a 5.3 average and 11 TDs on the ground. Be he also has 48 receptions for 396 yards and another three TDs. A strong finish keeps him in the mix.

Other contenders

Patrick Mahomes Photo via Kansas City Chiefs/Facebook

Patrick Mahomes missed some time but is still +1400 and still has almost half a season and his numbers are outstanding. Tom Brady (+2000), Drew Brees (+2500), Jimmy Garroppolo (+2500), Dak Prescott (+3300) and Kirk Cousins (+3300) are next in the wagering, but they all seem unlikely at this point. Dalvin Cook of the Vikings might still be able to make a run. Realistically, it's hard to see anyone outside of the top five other than perhaps Mahomes, but again, a lot of football is left to be played.

The case for Watson

Realistically, Watson is a deserving top four candidate. In my current rankings, he would slot in behind Wilson, Jackson and Rodgers, but the next three weeks could move him way up or take him out of the race entirely. Still, he has completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 2,432 yards, 18 touchdowns, five interceptions and a rating of 107.1. He also has rushed for 279 yards on 52 carries and five TDs. His numbers put him right there, but team record will be a big factor here. He is unlikely to have significantly better numbers than Jackson, Wilson or Rodgers, so his best hope is to keep winning games and continue to play at a high level. And like all of them, stay healthy.

There is a long way to go, but for now, at least another Houston athlete is in the MVP conversation. We will see how long it lasts.

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Everyone else is doing it! Composite image by Jack Brame.

Can a professional athlete come up with a worse excuse for getting caught using performance-enhancing drugs than blaming it on a doctor?

Fans would have more respect for a player if he said the dog ate his urine test results.

Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V (as in I'm taking the Fifth) and cornerback Bradley Roby have been suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Both will sit out for the remaining five games of the 2020 season, plus the first game of the 2021 season.

There were many questions about Fuller heading into Year 5 of his NFL career. Up until 2020, his tenure in the NFL has been plagued with injuries, and some Texans fans clamored for him to be swapped before the 2020 trade deadline. Fuller was having his best season, and the Texans decided to keep him. In fact, Deshaun Watson said the team would've revolted if Fuller had been moved. In 11 games, Fuller has 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns.

I'm going to cut Bradley Roby some slack because he took ownership for using a banned substance. He made it clear that it was his responsibility to know what is on the NFL's list of banned PEDs. He will probably have that list taped on his fridge the rest of his NFL career.

Fuller took a different approach, one that unfortunately resembles many other famous athletes' excuses for getting caught with PEDs; Blame a medical professional. Or somebody, anybody else.

Whether Fuller and Roby were receiving treatment from the same medical professional is unknown. More important, it's irrelevant. In 2020, how could athletes possibly blame a medical professional when a list of banned substances is hanging on the wall in every team's training room?

The answer is they shouldn't. Let's take a look at athletes with the worst excuses for juicing. Specifically for getting caught juicing.

Rafael Palmeiro (MLB) - Other than a physician or trainer, the only person more improbable to blame for a positive steroid test is your own teammate. When Palmeiro tested positive in 2005, he blamed a supposed B-12 shot (it wasn't B-12) administered by Baltimore Orioles Miguel Tejada.

Brian Cushing (NFL) - Cushing played his entire NFL career with the Houston Texans. Cushing's first positive test came in 2009. He had abnormally high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, a human growth hormone that typically shows up in pregnant women. He later changed his excuse to "overtraining." He has since claimed the positive test was a result of a cancerous tumor. He tested positive for PEDs again in 2017.

Maria Sharapova (Tennis) - Sharapova claimed she never read an email which listed the banned substance, meldonium, she was caught taking.

Barry Bonds (MLB) - When Bonds tested positive for PEDs in 2000 and 2001, he put all of the blame on San Francisco Giants trainer Greg Anderson. Bonds said Anderson told him that he was using flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is not typically injected, and certainly doesn't lead to your hat size growing.

Lance Armstrong (Cycling) - Armstrong, after years of denial, admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs on an Opera Winfrey prime time special. His excuse? Every other cyclist was doing it. Oprah did not ask him if he would jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if the others did. How could anybody win seven Tour de France titles after surviving testicular cancer? They might as well have renamed the race Tour De Lance. His sad saga ended with him being stripped of his seven titles and banned for life.

Melky Cabrera (MLB) - Cabrera tested positive while playing for the San Francisco Giants in 2012. After his positive test, he paid a patsy $10,000 to create a fake website that sold fake products to try and fake his innocence. The FBI busted him and he served a real suspension.

LaShawn Merritt (Track & Field) - The famed American sprinter blamed his third positive steroid test on a testicular enlargement supplement called Extenze.

Petr Korda (Tennis) - Korda stated that his love for veal was the reason he tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. He went further saying he liked veal even more when the calf was injected with steroids. A scientist testified Korda would have to eat 40 calves every day for 20 years to equal the amount of nandrolone discovered in his system. Sounds like the Ivan Drago diet (from the first fight, when he killed Apollo Creed).

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