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.

Friday the 13th. Triskaidekophobes' worst nightmare. It's silliness. Like believing in the Texans as Super Bowl contenders.

So how did the Texans go from toppling the 10-1 Patriots one Sunday, to having the 4-8 Broncos humiliate them the next? That is what mediocrity is all about, Houston Texans style. Imagine how ugly it would have gotten had the Broncos not had to deal with the intimidation factor of playing under a closed roof on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. There was a surprising number of no shows for an 8-4 home team off of two quality wins. Coincidence? Certainly not entirely. Ticket holders who opted to stay away joined essentially the entire team in no-showing.

With their record 8-5 the odds still favor the Texans making the playoffs. Winning two of the remaining three games does the job (and secures other one of those cute little AFC South Champion banners!). Of course, the odds favored the Texans not trailing 31-3 at home at halftime to a Broncos' team that hadn't scored more than 24 points in any game all season. Winning one to finish 9-7 could mean a Wild Card. Yippee!

They are only three point underdogs at Tennessee Sunday. If the Texans' feeble pass rush can't pick it up the Texans' D figures to be D-stroyed again. Ryan Tannehill's career revival with the Titans has been astounding. What reasonable person would have believed that entering this game Tannehill would be playing better quarterback than Deshaun Watson over the last month? Defending Derrick Henry's power running is a big problem, and that has made Tannehill devastating in the play action passing game. Good chance the Texans will need to score more than 28 points to win. They last did so eight games ago in their 31-24 victory at Kansas City. The Titans look like the better team right now, but week to week in the NFL who knows.

As I put it on the radio show earlier this week, in an either or scenario which would you prefer: the Texans do win their division, maybe win a wild card weekend home game, and if they do then take a shot at not getting crushed at Baltimore again. OR…the Texans lose twice to the Titans, lose in Tampa, tumbling from 8-4 to an 8-8 playoff miss and Cal McNair decides to fire Bill O'Brien?

Tough spell for Astros

Given that Oakland wasn't a possibility, Gerrit Cole picking the Yankees is the Astros' worst case scenario. If you're thinking nine years 324 million dollars is nuts, of course nine years is crazy long, but the Yankees are a money printing machine. Forbes magazine estimate for 2018 had the Yankees generating roughly 300 million dollars more in revenue than did the Astros.

Another bottom line: with Cole the Yankees are markedly better, without him the Astros are markedly worse.

The Astros are in a payroll bind, hence the trade Carlos Correa rumblings. In isolation, trading Correa would be dumb. Yes he has proven brittle. But Correa is also super-talented, 25 years old, and for two more years in Major League Baseball terms, dirt cheap. Trade Correa for what? A desperate play to escape the 13 million dollar anvil that is Josh Reddick's 2020 contract? Offered for nothing in return the Astros have no takers for Reddick. As a must take in a Correa deal, Reddick would drive down the return the Astros could get.

The Astros would be seeking a cheap, multi-years team-controlled stud young starting pitcher for Correa. They're not getting one for him. Guys like the Dodgers' Walker Buehler, the Cardinals' Jack Flaherty, the Braves Mike Siroka, the Indians Shane Bieber, those teams wouldn't swap their guy for Correa straight up. They'd laugh at an Astro offer of Correa and Reddick. Reds' starter Luis Castillo's name has been thrown against the wall. He's had one really good full big league season. At 27 years old, Castillo isn't eligible for arbitration until 2021. Why would the Reds trade him for Correa who can walk as a free agent after the 2021 season? Mets starter Noah Syndegaard? Probably not available, and he can become a free agent the same time as Correa.

It's always easy to burn someone else's money, but the Astros' best play is keeping Correa and swallowing the Reddick 13 mil if necessary, rather than taking 70 cents on the dollar back in a trade. Jim Crane and his partners can make back any loss in profit margin during this Astros' window of excellence by cutting costs when the next rebuilding time comes around and/or by selling the team down the line for several times the 610 million dollars they paid to buy it.

Buzzer Beaters

1. If you can get a ticket, UH-Oklahoma St. at Fertitta Center is the place to be Sunday afternoon. 2. The NBA has captivated very few around here so far this season, but the relentlessness of James Harden's scoring pace (37.6 points per game) is stupefying. 3. Absurd actual phobias: Bronze-Somniphobia, fear of sleep Silver-Cherophobia, fear of happiness Gold-Arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth


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