THE FRIDAY CODY STOOTS 6 PACK

Jaguars are vulnerable, but can Texans take advantage?

The Jags D has not been as dominant this year. Jacksonvillejaguars.com

It's the Friday Stoots 6-Pack on SportsMap with plenty to get you ready for the NFL weekend. 

1. Brock Osweiler leads the Dolphins this week yet again with Ryan Tannehill injured. This week the Lions off a bye get Brock and company. He had some great stats and some very Osweilerian plays against the Bears in the overtime win last week. With injuries mounting and Osweiler's success, the Dolphins could be looking to move on from the former Texas A&M product. Not for Brock, goodness no. But for a rookie or other available free agent. As for Brock, just stay healthy so Thursday Night Football we get the Osweiler return game we were robbed of last year. 

2. The Bears might be in for a rude awakening this week. They've had a nice season but second-year quarterback against the greatest coach in NFL history is a recipe for disaster. Khalil Mack is great but there should be an expectation the Patriots do to him as they do with all great defenders: neutralize. It will be an interesting one for Chicago, who went from rebuilding to ready with the addition of Mack but have had two disappointing losses. A nice measuring stick for the Bears and a good challenge for the Patriots. 

3. There might be three games with eye-popping scores Sunday. Browns-Buccaneers has shootout written all over it with the Browns being inconsistent on defense and offense the Buccaneers terrible defense is the recipe to get going. Jameis Winston played his tail off and he's trying to stick as the starter so he's motivated to sling it and their run game stinks. The Ravens have put up big numbers and the Saints bring a rested but bad defense. Brees and Flacco is an offensive showcase in today's NFL. Then Sunday Night Football features "Showtime" Patrick Mahomes and his team's awful defense against Andy Dalton and the surprisingly good Cincinnati offense. 

4. The Texans might have yet another new-look offensive line on Sunday. Guard Zach Fulton has been starting at the right guard spot but an ankle injury has sidelined him this week. If he can't play against the Jaguars it could be Greg Mancz at guard. The Jaguars haven't had the success of last year rushing the passer but they're still a talented bunch. Yet another moving part for the Texans offensive line could spell doom for a team that has allowed almost the most sacks and by far the most quarterback hits in the NFL.

5. Jacksonville is way behind statistically from last year. Their interceptions are way down, just three this year and 25 spots in the NFL ranking off their second-place finish last year. They are way down on sacks too. The Jaguars were second last season and find themselves 18th this season. They have actually had success in not giving up yards but their rush defense isn't great. The Texans could use the balance to help protect Watson and get the offense going. 

6. If the NFL is truly a quarterback league why aren't we all picking the Texans to win this game? Deshaun Watson, on his worst day, is so much better than Blake Bortles. The Jaguars wideouts pale in comparison to the Texans pass catchers. The rushing advantage and the offensive line is tilted to Jacksonville. The Texans defense is playing better than the Jaguars right this minute. Now, why people, including myself, are picking the Jaguars. They are coached better. Doug Marrone and his staff are better at coaching than Bill O'Brien and his staff. The Texans have turnovers in 20 straight games and have thrown an interception in 17 straight games. They commit penalties too often. Houston can't score in the red zone despite being unstoppable last year. It's coaching. From top to bottom. It should be the difference Sunday. 

 

 

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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