This season is all about improvement for the Texans. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.
Famed British author Charles Dickens wouldn’t be pleased with the Houston Texans’ prospects for the 2022 NFL Season.
Dickens had “Great Expectations.” (That English Lit 202 course finally pays off.) The Texans’ hardly lofty goal is to improve on consecutive 4-win seasons. Baby steps.
The Texans’ season starts Sunday against AFC South rival Indianapolis at NRG Stadium. It’s not exactly the hottest ticket in town. Seats in the balcony can be had for $27 at Ticketmaster, even lower on secondary market sites.
The Texans are 8-point underdogs against the Colts. Get used to it. If you place your bets now, hurry hurry, the Texans are underdogs in all 17 games. As John Lennon said, it can’t get no worse. They’re double-digit dogs at Denver (Sept. 18), at Dallas (Dec. 11) and home against Kansas City (Dec. 18). The closest the Texans come to even money is when equally hapless Jacksonville slinks into NRG Stadium (Jan. 1). Happy New Year, the Texans are only +1.
A record 46 million Americans are expected to bet on NFL games this season. That’s due in part because 31 states now have legalized sports betting. Of course, Texas doesn’t allow sports betting because our governor and lieutenant governor are too busy doing … don’t get me started.
The freakiest game on the Texans schedule is Dec. 4 when Cleveland comes to town. You might have heard of the Browns quarterback, some guy named Deshaun Watson. It will be Watson’s first game back from an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Texans owner Cal McNair dropped a hint this week that the team may offer a jersey swap, you bring in an old Deshaun Watson jersey and the Texans will replace it with a current player’s jersey.
Watson shouldn’t expect an official tribute video from the Texans, but how will the fans “welcome” him back? Will there be 100-percent boos, a mixed reaction, or all is forgiven? Will there be protestors outside the stadium? Tickets still are available for the Watson red carpet rollout, starting at $75 for upstairs and $157 for the lower bowl.
Are you Longshot Louie? The Texans are 40,000-1 to win the Super Bowl. That’s actually worse odds than last year, when they were only 17,500-1 to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Captain Obvious reminds fans that the Texans have never won a Super Bowl, never played in one, never even appeared in an AFC Championship Game. In fact, the Texans total won-loss record since Day One (21 seasons) is 139-182. Lest we forget, the Texans made the playoffs in 2018 and 2019. Lousy happens fast.
For the record, the Astros are Even Steven in franchise history, 4,813-4,813. The Rockets have a winning bottom line, 2,306-2,136.
The Texans are introducing several new food items for the 2022 season, including Hawaiian hot dogs topped with pulled pork, and the Que-Dog topped with smoked brisket and touchdown nachos.
The concourse headliner is Texas Fireworks Pickles, which are pickles marinated in Kool-Aid, rolled in Cheetos and deep-fried. Seriously. This is when you break out the Dixie Cups in the NRG Stadium test kitchen. Note to the head of Texans concessions: you see those men in white lab coats waving butterfly nets? They are here to help you, go with them.
Vegas projects the Texans’ win total at 4.5 games. Baby steps. Another team with a low win projection is the New York Jets (5.5 victories). Curiously, both the Texans and Jets went 3-0 in preseason this year.
That’s not all bad. The 2023 draft appears stacked with franchise-quality quarterbacks, including Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young. Memo to David Mills: you might want to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, otherwise you might be transferring somewhere else for your junior year.
Luka Doncic had 41 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and the Dallas Mavericks prevented the Houston Rockets from advancing to the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament with a 121-115 victory on Tuesday night.
Kyrie Irving added 22 of his 27 points in the second half for the Mavericks, who had already been eliminated. Their victory allowed the New Orleans Pelicans to win Group B in the Western Conference with a 3-1 record.
Doncic fell just short of his 59th career triple-double. That would have tied him for ninth place all-time with Larry Bird. He shot 15 of 29, 3 of 10 on 3-pointers.
“Sometimes we take him for granted, and we shouldn’t,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s about winning, but it just so happens he’s a walking triple-double.
”The Mavericks, who trailed by nine points in the third quarter, grabbed the lead for good at 99-98 with 6:25 to play on a drive by Irving. Leading 103-100 with 5:25 left, they went on an 8-2 run that included three free throws by Derrick Jones Jr. when he was fouled by Dillon Brooks on a 25-footer with the shot clock about to expire.
Jabari Smith Jr.’s 3-pointer with 8 seconds left pulled the Rockets within 119-115 before Dallas closed it out.
Doncic played after sustaining a low-grade sprain of his left thumb on his non-shooting hand early in Saturday’s game. He wore a wrap on the thumb.
Doncic made a hook shot from the free throw line after recovering a loose ball near the baseline.
“I’m 2 for 2 in my career on the hooks,” Doncic said, saying the other came while playing for the Slovenian national team against Sweden.
Irving shot 2 for 11 in the first half, 1 for 5 on 3-pointers, with no free-throw attempts. He was 6 for 11 in the second half, hitting 1 of 2 behind the arc, and sank all nine free throws.
“I told the team, ‘Played well enough to win, not smart enough to win,’” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “We were extra-aggressive, especially at the end of the third quarter. Had multiple players make a few dumb fouls, put Kyrie at the line and got him going when he didn’t have a lot going. You can be aggressive, obviously, but slapping somebody on a 3-point shot on the arm is an unintelligent play. It has nothing to do with aggression.”
Alperen Sengun had a season-best 31 points for the Rockets, who had six scorers in double figures. Fred VanVleet had 10 points and 12 assists.
The Rockets have lost all six of their road games this season. They went into play leading the NBA by allowing an average of 104.4 points per game.
The Mavericks didn’t use the specially built court for either of their home tournament games, citing dissatisfaction with the quality.
Rockets: Will finish a back-to-back at Denver on Wednesday.
Mavericks: Host Memphis on Friday.