The Pallilog

Pallilo's view: Believe it or not, Texans will be in the thick of the wild card race with a win Monday

Tom Savage sucked less last week. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

A slightly shorter Pallilog entry this week because the tryptophan overdose is making me sleepy…

We know that the Texans as constituted are not a good football team. But Monday night at Baltimore they play a game with legitimate AFC playoff picture implications. That is testimony to the pitiful state of the AFC Wildcard race. The Texans are 4-6. The most likely result is they lose as seven point underdogs and that is that. But the Texans beating the 5-5 Ravens would be an upset not a miracle, and if they pull it off to get to 5-6 their chances at an AFC wild card berth would be as good as any team in the race besides the Titans.

You get one guess as to what team has scored the fewest offensive touchdowns in the NFL this season. Right! The Ravens. Have yourself an extra helping of leftovers. The Ravens have scored a paltry 16 offensive TDs in their 10 games. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco simply isn’t very good. Flacco parlayed one brilliant Super Bowl winning postseason into a six year 120 million dollar contract, and because the Ravens were salary cap-strapped last year they gave him a three year 66 mil extension. Since winning Super Bowl XLVII (47 for those who struggle with Roman numerals) the Ravens have one playoff win. This season Flacco has thrown nine touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. Only the Bengals have gained fewer yards this season. Alas, the Texans’ defense comes off being the first NFL team to ever give up three touchdown passes in a game to Blaine Gabbert. With a leaky secondary and a lackluster pass rush the Texans just don’t seem capable of shutting down any offense these days. Their D almost has to play over its head Monday for the Texans to win. Because…

The Ravens have one of the best defenses in the NFL this season, only the Jaguars and Steelers have allowed fewer points. The Ravens have posted three shutouts. Yes those came over the early season punchless Bengals, the Dolphins’ clown show attack, and the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers. The Texans’ offense has much more in common with that hapless trio than it does with the Patriots, Eagles, or Saints. Credit Tom Savage for last week against the Cardinals for the first time looking like he at least belonged in the NFL. A Monday night relapse seems a decent bet.

The Ravens also have one of the best sets of special teams in the league. In the spirit of the holiday season let’s just say the Texans do not and leave it at that.

Tis the season...

 ...for college football coaches to get fired left and right. In the SEC alone Florida, Tennessee, and Mississippi have openings, with Arkansas and Texas A&M probably joining the list by early next week. Kevin Sumlin’s tenure in Aggieland certainly hasn’t been terrible, but as certainly it hasn’t been very good and is certainly not trending up. The Aggies last won an SEC East game at Kyle Field in October. Of 2015! Unacceptable. A 10 million dollar payoff for Sumlin to not coach A&M the next two years is obviously doable. UCLA just fired Jim Mora and must pay him more than 12 mil to not coach the Bruins the next two years. Sumlin is among the names in the rumor mill for the UCLA job. The team against which his Ags blew a 44-10 lead in losing the season opener. If Chip Kelly opts for the UCLA job over Florida, the Bruins should consider themselves lucky. Well, if paying a college football coach not named Nick Saban six to 10 million dollars per year should ever have the “lucky” attached to it.

Feel the force Luc!

As the Rockets keep rolling through their early season schedule, quite an impressive number posted by Luc Mbah a Moute Wednesday night as they obliterated the Denver Nuggets. The Rockets won the game by 30. In the 26 minutes Mbah a Moute played, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by 57! 93-36 in Mbah a Moute’s time on the court. Extrapolated over a full 48 minute game the resulting wipeout would have been Rockets 171  Nuggets 66. Going back 20 years, Mbah a Moute’s personal +57 for the game is the highest put up by any NBA player.

Buzzer beaters

 1. The Rockets actually have a chance to hang with the Warriors in the race for regular season Best in the West.   2. Alabama-Auburn is the college football matchup I’d most like to attend some year.   3. Places with a zero percent chance of spotting me Friday:  Bronze-any mall  Silver-any mall  Gold-any mall

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston gets another victory in Anaheim

Astros overpower Angels again as magic number dwindles

Kyle Tucker had 3 of Houston's RBI on Tuesday night, including a two-run homer. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

After a beatdown of the Angels on Monday in the opener, the Astros entered Tuesday's game looking to replicate that success. Though Los Angeles would put up more of a fight, Houston still used their potent offense to keep the game out of reach.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 90-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Packy Naughton (0-3)

Houston's bats keep connecting to back up Urquidy

The Astros picked up on Tuesday's game where they left off on Monday, launching homers to take and extend a lead. A leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the second set up Kyle Tucker, who drove a two-run shot. Aledmys Diaz was next, making it back-to-back jacks to push the new lead to 3-0.

That gave Jose Urquidy a lead to work with, which came in handy as former Astro Jack Mayfield cut the lead to two runs with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the second. Other than that, Urquidy did well through five innings, allowing just two other hits over that span. LA got to him in the sixth, getting two singles to set up a three-run homer to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 79 P.

The runs keep coming

He would still leave in line for the win, though, as before that bottom of the sixth, the Astros had put up seven more runs across the fifth and sixth. A leadoff walk in the top of the fifth was followed by a two-run homer by Jose Altuve, then later in the frame, an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz made it 7-1. They pushed that to double digits in the sixth, with a leadoff solo shot by Martin Maldonado, a sac fly by Carlos Correa, and an RBI groundout by Kyle Tucker, putting them up 10-1 before the homer allowed by Urquidy cut that to 10-4.

Astros win to reduce magic number again

In the sixth, Cristian Javier took over for Urquidy, finished that inning, and returned for a scoreless seventh. He ran into Shohei Ohtani to lead off the bottom of the eighth and left a fastball in the zone, which Ohtani turned around 445 feet to make it a five-run game. Javier still got through the inning, leaving just the ninth for Houston's second reliever of the night, Josh James. James would get through a scoreless inning, erasing a leadoff walk as the lopsided win paired with an A's loss reduces Houston's magic number to 4.

Up Next: The third of this four-game series will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Wednesday. Janson Junk (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his third career start for the Angels, while Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.37 ERA) will have the ball for the Astros.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome