THE PALLILOG

It would be an upset, but Texans have a chance to prove something against the Chiefs

So can the Texans go where they have never gone before, the AFC Championship game?

It was Jim Carrey's Lloyd Christmas character in Dumb and Dumber who said "You're telling me there's a chance." Of course there's a chance the Texans can win Sunday. A great chance? No. The odds peg them with about a 20 percent shot. That sounds about right. With probably 80 percent of that 20 percent attributable to Deshaun Watson.

The Texans win over the Bills was dramatic and exciting, but that they needed a huge comeback, at home, to beat the Bills, does not augur well for Sunday in Kansas City. The Chiefs' offense is better than the Texans' offense. The Chiefs' defense is better than the Texans' defense. The Chiefs' coaching is better than the Texans' coaching, though Chiefs' Head Coach Andy Reid has a litany of bad playoff losses on his resume from his tenure with K.C. and before that his time with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Texans' October win at Arrowhead Stadium is irrelevant toward the infinitely more important rematch. Back then Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes was hobbling, wide receiver Sammy Watkins was out, also out was stud defensive lineman Chris Jones.

So how can the Texans pull it off? Any Given Sunday. One game, you just never know. If the ever delicate Will Fuller can play Sunday, maybe he can help the Texans exploit the absence of injured Chiefs free safety Juan Thornhill. The Texans could play over their heads. The Chiefs could choke, they have lost seven of their last eight home playoff games. Old results don't matter, perhaps unless the Texans start fast and the much-scarred K.C. crowd gets uptight and eats into the Chiefs' homefield advantage.

Logically, the Texans should not win. That doesn't mean the Texans are playing with house money. If they get clobbered, the win over the Bills is rendered mostly a memorable footnote. One near certainty, the Texans will not beat the Chiefs if they score only 19 points in regulation.

The only way to pull off a big upset is to be a big underdog. The Texans have the second part down as nine and a half point dogs. The first part, the big upset? Show us Texans. In the Show Me state. The dream scenario for them is an upset in Kansas City following the Titans bumping off the Ravens Saturday night which would mean a Texans-Titans AFC Championship Game at NRG Stadium a week from Sunday. There's maybe a five percent chance of that happening. Hey, better odds than hitting the Powerball.

Solid start despite setback

Despite getting blown off the court in Oklahoma City Thursday night, at 25-12 the Rockets are having a good first half of the regular season. Though they continue to generate very little buzz. James Harden continues to score at an astounding pace, though Wednesday night in Atlanta his 41 points while shooting 9-34 from the field and 4-20 on three point chucks was nothing to brag about, then Thursday in OKC he was awful in scoring a season low 17 points. In his first game back in OKC Russell Westbrook was the only Rocket to play worth a darn. He poured in 34 points in 34 minutes, albeit with his usual brutal three point shooting (1-6). The Rockets next three games are against losing teams (Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers) before their first game of the season vs. the Lakers.

It's easy being green

Losing Matt Rhule to the Carolina Panthers is a blow to Baylor football, but what a time it is for Bears athletics, the head and shoulders class of Texas right now. An 11 win football season, men's basketball number four in the country, women's basketball number six until the next poll after the Lady Bears blew out number one UConn Thursday ending the Huskies 98 game home winning streak.

Finally, a game

Have you heard the rumor? LSU and Clemson will get around to playing Monday night for the National Championship. It's hard to geaux against the purple and gold clad Tigers. A great side bet would be that the losing school can't refer to its home stadium as Death Valley at any point next season. Clemson had the nickname first.

Buzzer BeatersĀ 

1. The Astros report to spring training in just over a month. Looks like an increasingly good bet that Jeff Luhnow will not be the President of Baseball Operations and A.J. Hinch will not be the Manager. 2. In Big 12 games Shaka Smart is now 31-43. 3. Greatest plays in Houston pro football history: Bronze-Earl Campbell trucking Pro Bowl-er Isiah Robertson (YouTube!) and having the jersey torn from his body in 1978. Silver-J.J. Watt's pick six just before halftime in the Texans' first ever playoff game (and win) eight years ago vs. the Bengals. Gold-Watson's overtime Great Escape and pass to Taiwan Jones vs. the Bills.

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Jalen Green is poised for a breakout season. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

NBA Training Camp is upon us. That also means media day for NBA has taken place as well. Teams and their fan bases are all excited about the prospects for the upcoming season. Anticipation for what's to come is high. Teams will always keep their minds on the task at hand. It's the fans that need to stay engaged. They also can tell when a season isn't going to go well and will check out quickly if things are off the rails.

The Rockets come into the 2022-23 season with more promise than the previous couple of seasons. They have some young talent ready to breakout. They also have some vets on hand to help those young guys out. While I'm not expecting a playoff run, it wouldn't surprise me to see them challenge for a play-in spot. Here are three reasons Rockets fans should be excited for this season:

Jalen Green's continued growth and development: Green had a coming out party towards the end of his rookie year. Over his last 10 games, Green failed to score more than 23 points twice. Six of those games he scored 30 or more. His efficiency went up as he learned shot selection and choosing his spots. He started allowing the game to come to him and/or forcing the action when necessary. This kid loves the game and truly wants to get better. I believe we'll see a more polished version of Green this season. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he took a leap in every major statistical category. A first time All-Star? I think it's a possibility.

Jabari Smith Jr. will be everything Christian Wood should've been and then some: Wood gained a rep for being a bit aloof. He wasn't very self-aware, and seemed to be more self-absorbed than a team player. While his play as a stretch four was good, Smith Jr. can be that much better. Wood wasn't a consistent defender and his efforts showed. Smith Jr. seems to take pride in his defense. That alone is worth the change. Having a former NBA player as a dad and growing up around the game has given him the desire to be great. He's seen what this life has to offer. He knows what it takes to be great and appears poised to take the league by storm. Personally, I think he's the perfect fit for the Rockets. Future All-Star player for sure.

A playoff appearance isn't out of the question: With the NBA sticking with the play-in format for the final two playoff spots, it gives 10 teams in each conference a chance to make the playoffs. If 20 of the 30 teams make it and the Rockets can't make at least a push to get one of those final spots, I'll be shocked. These guys are young, hungry, and eager to make their marks on the league. Never underestimate a guy looking for an extension such as Kevin Porter Jr. Throw in Tari Eason, Green, Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun...and you have the makings of a feisty young squad with hunger that can only be spelled by winning.

Gone are the 20-win seasons. Heck, 30-win seasons may be a thing of the past as well. Brighter times are ahead for this team. If they show signs of being a viable contender, who's to say general manager Rafael Stone doesn't use some assets to make a trade for a superstar player they believe can help get this team to make a run in the playoffs? Armed with young talent and a bevy of picks, this team is poised to win at some point. Maybe it's this season. Don't be shocked if they end up playing past the play-in games.

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