Watson doesn't lose like that and of course NFL officiating has some explaining to do

Short week bounce back needed for Texans

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

3 Headlines, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet ahead of the Thursday Night thriller with the Colts.

We're on to Indianapolis and Thursday

That is basically what Bill O'Brien said on Monday. He didn't seem too willing to discuss the Baltimore blowout so the focus was on the Colts on the short week.

He mentioned he expected to see some of Baltimore's defensive sets and schemes that were successful on Sunday from the Colts. He also noted this is a big mental week. I look at it as matching wits with Frank Reich.

Neither team looks remotely close to the last time these two played. The Texans have new faces in the secondary and might even be a little healthy. No J.J. Watt of course. Maybe Will Fuller is back, maybe he isn't. The Colts have Jacoby Brisett back rendering a lot of what they did in two of the past three games near useless from a scouting perspective. The Colts secondary should be much more healthy than the last contest.

This isn't an easy task for O'Brien and company. Frank Reich has out-coached him in all four of their meetings. O'Brien could use a "win" on the headset so to speak.

Deshaun Watson doesn't lose like that

The worst loss of Deshaun Watson's career in college when he actually played even a bit in the game is 24 points. He didn't start that game, just came in late. When Clemson was his program and he was the guy? His worst loss was by five points to Alabama in the national championship.

In the pros Watson hasn't lost like that much either. At all really. He has a 14-point playoff loss to the Colts and an eight point loss to the Chiefs in his time as the starter that are worse than seven. That's it.

So a 34-point ass-kicking from the Ravens can't be fun for him or his teammates. There will be a bounce back.

There is no reason the inherent belief Deshaun Watson will be awesome should go away. Sunday, while slightly about his game, was about the team more than him. He is a phenomenal talent and every player has hiccups. Lamar Jackson has had plenty this year including a disappointing game against the Chiefs in a loss earlier this season as well as a stinker against the Browns.

Watson won't lose like this again for a very long time.

It was worth the challenge

Bill O'Brien was right to challenge the pass interference no call against Marlon Humphrey. There is no denying this. I understand some may view this as an example of O'Brien being hard-headed when it comes to this but I don't agree. This was egregious. He wouldn't challenge a ticky-tack play.

I am aware the calls typically are not getting overturned but it isn't like they never get overturned. It has happened. Later in the day San Francisco had a call overturned against them when Arizona challenged that there was no defensive pass interference.

Going forward though, unless there is a clear idea of change sent out in memo form throughout the league, just keep the flag in your pocket. This goes for all the coaches, not just O'Brien.

As for the NFL, well they need to fix things. Al Riveron sits atop his castle of lies in New York and consistently gets calls wrong to protect his cronies in the white and black stripes. Roger Goodell and the NFL should be embarrassed at the way this is handled and the competition committee has a real problem on their hands.

Will the soft tissue twosome return this week?

Will Fuller hasn't played since the last time the Texans played the Colts where he managed just one catch and had the hamstring issue flare up. That was a month ago.

Over a month ago Bradley Roby left the Chiefs game with a hamstring issue.

It would be huge to have both players back for the Texans. Bill O'Brien noted Monday they need to find a way to test both players without real tough practices available on the short week. He mentioned both fall into the game-time decision category right now.

Fuller is needed back more than Roby. The offense has so much more juice when he is on the field. It all opens up because he can take the top off the defense. Don't get me wrong, I won't scoff at having both of them back by any means.

Justin Houston is a freak

He got off to a slow start in his new home, but the veteran is a monster again. The Colts STOLE him this offseason with a contract that only pays him $12 million a year for two years. The ageless wonder that is elite pass rushing talent has been a bargain the past few weeks.

Houston has to be stopped as he's the most consistent pass rusher on the Colts. I also bring him up for two reasons.

The first reason is I believe J.J. Watt will age better than Houston for the duration of their careers. They're roughly the same age but Watt has had injuries hobble him much more than Houston. However, coming back from injuries Houston hasn't been anywhere close to as good as his best. Watt, in my opinion, still is elite in some categories. Not to say Houston isn't good, he is, but Watt has been able to bounce back closer to his former greatness than Houston in his career.

The second reason is Houston will be the type of player the Texans should be looking to spend cap space on to round out their rosters going forward the next couple of offseasons as they lack draft picks but have cap space.

I bet the winner of Thursday's game is the AFC South champion

The Colts desperately need the win on Thursday if they have designs on winning the AFC South title. If they lose to the Texans the head-to-head will be split, and the division records would be the same dropping it down to common opponents in a tiebreaker situation. Now, obviously the division record can change drastically with the Texas still having both games against the Titans left. For the Texans, they would essentially be two games back with a loss. The Colts would own first tiebreaker which is head-to-head and that won't change based on the rest of the schedule.

The winner Thursday is the winner of the AFC South in my mind.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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