The Pallilog

Postseason advantage goes to Cowboys over Texans

Jason Garret and the Cowboys are a game away from the NFC title game. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Since the Texans entered the NFL, they have produced the less than grand total of three playoff wins.

Since the Texans entered the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys have produced three playoff wins.

Advantage Cowboys, for the moment at least. While the Texans this weekend perhaps dream about receiving their AFC South championship rings, the Cowboys dream of upsetting the Rams Saturday in Los Angeles and reaching their first NFC Championship game since the 1995 season. Of course the Cowboys have a chance (they're seven point underdogs).

Stats can be more deceiving in the NFL than in the other major sports because teams only play 16 games. But…the Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott was the NFL's leading rusher this season. Nothing deceiving about that, Elliott is outstanding. One guess as to which team ranked dead last in the NFL this season in yards allowed per carry. Kind of a leading question, so right you are! The Rams allowed 5.1 yards per carry.

Here's the stats can be deceiving part. In going 13-3, the Rams were ahead, a lot. When facing teams trying to come from behind against you, your defense is concerned even more than usual with defending the pass and preventing big plays. That can make a defense susceptible to some runs. To what extent that impacted the Rams stats? I haven't done a deep dive on that. But you know Elliott is going to be fed the ball a lot Saturday.

The Rams are rightful favorites, as are the Saints over the Eagles. But I put it at about 40% that next week at least one NFC East team is playing for a trip to Super Bowl LIII.

With most Texans thinking: How 'Bout NOT Them Cowboys.

Mediocre, thy name is Texans

In the Texans 17 seasons, they still have yet to legitimately contend for a significant title. Winning a four team Division five times in eight years is nice little achievement, though anyone proudly wearing a 2018 AFC South champion shirt these days: Weak!

Recovering from an 0-3 start to make the playoffs isn't a throwaway, but twice within a month the Colts slapped the Texans at NRG Stadium. In the end that defines the Texans' season more so than does an 11-5 record built largely off of a marshmallow schedule.

Hubbed by Deshaun Watson, who picked a lousy time for a lousy game throwing the ball, the Texans are in a good position going forward. It's not as if their offensive line can get worse. The o-line and the secondary need major work this offseason. But as opposed to last year, the Texans are equipped with their first round draft choice, and two second rounders, and are among the top 10 teams in salary cap space. Big problem: the Colts also have a one and two twos, and they are number one in cap space.

Texans' General Manager Brian Gaine better nail it over these next several months, or the Texans could face another era of mostly breathing Indy exhaust fumes.

Beard vs. the Freak

James Harden's run of 14 consecutive 30+ point games as been phenomenally impressive. NBA rules and style of play are different, but this James Harden is the best offensive player in Rockets' history, in what really is now an easy call over Hakeem Olajuwon (Moses Malone third). OK, best regular season offensive player in Rockets history.

Harden is right back in the thick of the Most Valuable Player award race. That Harden is definitely again the NBA MVP, no way, as Giannis Antetokounmpo forcefully demonstrated Wednesday night in his Bucks' win at Toyota Center. But if Harden gets it again, check the membership list of the club he'd join as a back-to-back MVP winner: Russell, Chamberlain, Kareem, Moses, Larry, Magic, Michael, Duncan, Nash, LeBron, Curry.

Antetokounmpo turned 24 years old just last month. The "Greek Freak" has carried the Bucks into the weekend with the NBA's best record (29-11). The guy still has no outside shot, sub-wretched 16 percent 3-point shooting this season, but he's still nearly as unguardable as Harden at 26.6 points per game on 58% field goal shooting. He's also averaging almost 13 rebounds per game, and six assists per. And is a versatile defensive force.

Spring fling

Just over a month to the Astros opening the doors at Spring Training. Caesar's this week posted the first bettable over/under 2019 win total numbers. The Astros have the highest number in MLB at 97 ½, 14 higher than second in the AL West (Angels). Last season the 103 win Stros cruised over their number which was 96 ½.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers have started in the same game seven times. The Patriots are 7-0. 2. The Chiefs this week hit the 25th anniversary of their last home playoff win. 0-6 since. 3. Top 3 picks in a draft of all current NBA players: Bronze-Joel Embiid Silver-Anthony Davis Gold-Giannis Antetokounmpo

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The Legacy Project has a long history in the city of Houston. Courtesy image.

Each year, the NCAA is committed to leaving a legacy in the Men’s and Women’s Final Four host cities to foster goodwill and sportsmanship. The Men’s Final Four Legacy Project presented by Unilever will select a community facility in Harris County and provide renovations in 2023. This will be the first time a Local Organizing Committee offers an open call for applications in order to select a project. Unilever, the Official Personal Care Partner of the NCAA, is in its twelfth year as an NCAA Corporate Partner and has been the presenting partner of the Legacy Project since 2018.

“One of the key roles that the Houston Local Organizing Committee plays is working with the NCAA to ensure that the impact of having an event like the Men’s Final Four in our city is felt long beyond the tournament’s conclusion. The Men’s Final Four Legacy Project presented by Unilever is one example of a community-focused project that will make a difference in our community for years to come,” says Rachel Quan, HLOC vice president of external operations.

The Legacy Project has a long history in the city of Houston. In 2011, the NCAA and HLOC worked to restore the basketball court and facilities at the MD Anderson Family YMCA. The renovation helped see a drastic increase in membership and enhanced the center’s ability to continue to reach neighborhood youth. In 2016, the Morefield Boys and Girls Club in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Houston received a refurbished basketball court thanks to the NCAA’s Legacy Project.

Working alongside the HLOC, the NCAA and corporate partner, Unilever, we will once again leave behind a legacy in the city by choosing and renovating another community facility in 2023.Applications are open to the public online through midnight on Monday, May 20, 2022.

To qualify, applicants must be located in Harris County. Applications awarded the highest score by community relations evaluators will earn the chance for the HLOC and NCAA to do a site visit to consider the project. A winner will be announced in the summer/fall of 2022 and unveiled in spring 2023, prior to the Men’s Final Four in April.

About the 2023 NCAA Men’s Final Four®

Houston will host the 2023 Men’s Final Four® from March 31 through April 3, 2023. Houston Baptist University, Rice University, Texas Southern University and the University of Houston will make history as the first quartet of institutions to host the Final Four. Games will be played on April 1 and 3 at NRG Stadium. The city of Houston is hosting the event for the fourth time, having previously crowned national champions in 1971, 2011 and 2016. For more information, visit https://www.ncaa.com/mens-final-four/.

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