Rock 'n' Roll!

You heard it here first: the definitive Texans prediction for Week 1 and beyond

The Texans will be underdogs each week. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

Spring may be the time when, according to the English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, "a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love."

But this is fall, at least we're pretty darn close, and in America everybody's obsession turns to thoughts of football.

The National Football League's 102nd season starts a week from today with a larrupin' (awesome word) clash between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys. It's the defending Super Bowl champs with the greatest quarterback ever against America's Team with their star quarterback returning from injury, on a Thursday night which otherwise hasn't been "Must See TV" since the '90s when Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier and E.R. ruled prime time.

Other marquee matchups following on Sunday, pick'em: Seahawks-Colts, Steelers-Bills, Browns-Chiefs, Dolphins-Patriots, and Packers-Saints.

It's much easier to dial in the Stinker of the Week: that's right here at NRG Stadium: the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15 last year) against our soap opera Houston Texans, saddled with a new general manager, new head coach, sadly the old owner and a $156 million quarterback sentenced to time out while 22 civil suits and 10 criminal investigations involving sexual misconduct wind their way through the legal system. Oh, and the quarterback hates being here and wants to be traded no matter what.

Hurricane season ain't got nothing on the ill winds that'll be blowing at NRG Stadium this year. After 20 years of rock solid sell-outs and a season ticket waiting list 60,000 deep, the Texans are practically begging "who needs 2?" on TV commercials. Face value is merely a far-fetched asking price for tickets on StubHub and those friendly vendors lining Kirby on game day. Like the audience yells on The Price is Right … "lower!"

In other NFL cities fans worry, "What will we do if our first-string quarterback gets injured and we have to play our backup?" We don't have that problem. Our superstar quarterback won't be injured this year, he's perfectly healthy on the inactive list, and we're starting his backup. And all bets are off if our third-round rookie gets the call.

The Texans offense looks so dreary that if they do score a touchdown, radio play-by-play announcer Marc Vandermeer may shout "Waltz in D Minor!" instead of his once-appropriate "Rock 'n' Roll!"

Phillip Lindsay is the No. 1 running back on the Texans' depth chart. Hey, where's that running back we got in a trade for maybe the best, most exciting receiver in the league last year? That's him on the bench. Probably soon the injured list.

Up and down the roster, it's not a who's who? It's just a who? The Texans just cut their most famous player – Simone Biles' boyfriend.

Over the next few days, you'll hear sports talk hosts dust off a traditional time-killer, predicting all 17 games for the Texans this season (there won't be an 18th). I'll save them and their listeners the effort: barring upsets that will crunch bookies' private parts, the Texans will lose all 17, an unchallenged record for football futility.

They'll be underdogs each week. They're 3-point dogs at home Week One against a team that won one measly game all last year. Wait till the Texans go on the road to Cleveland and Buffalo. The Texans will be hoping for a Saturday night call from the governor.

All is not bleak for the Texans, however. Why just today the Texans mascot Toro was named NFL Mascot of the Year. It's something.

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1. Davis Mills had an up-and-down day under center Friday. One play saw Mills drop back and try to get rid of the ball as Jonathan Greenard was rushing him only to have Greenard leap up and intercept Mills for what would have been an interception returned for a score.

2. A few plays later Davis Mills showcased his short memory. Mills surveyed the field, looked off the safety, and pitched a strike to Brevin Jordan over the middle, wide open, for a touchdown.

3. Davis Mills doesn’t stack bad plays. It is rare to see multiple bad plays happen in a row and Mills be the cause, or a cause, of the play not working. When he misses something, he usually makes up for it the next play.

4. It was a makeshift offensive line on Friday. Max Scharping played a lot at left guard. Charlie Heck saw some snaps at left tackle while Laremy Tunsil took a breather. Veteran lineman Cedric Ogbuehi played some at right tackle. There was plenty of work emphasized on the rushing attack Friday. The offensive line was fine, nothing special. I would say slight edge to the defense overall.

5. Rookie Kenyon Green didn’t practice. Right tackle Tytus Howard didn’t practice either. Pro Football Network is reporting Tytus Howard is out with a positive Covid test. Kenyon Green was banged up last practice, but Lovie Smith expects both back in the coming days.

6.The offensive line had its hands full with the defensive line today. Jonathan Greenard made the above-mentioned play of the practice with an interception. It felt constantly like there was some level of success from the defensive line. Not to say they dominated, but I would think the defense is happy with their day.

7. Maliek Collins has been a nice player in camp. He looks a bit quicker than last year. Collins downplayed how many “close” plays he had last year citing that everyone knows the saying “close but no cigar.” I asked him if he expected a lot of cigars this year. He chuckled and said yes. Teammate Roy Lopez gushed about what he believes Collins can be for this team and called his teammate one of the best defensive tackles in the league.

8. I almost wonder if quiet Derek Stingley days are good days. Stingley wasn’t involved in a lot of plays, but I know Davis Mills saw him on Friday. Mills dropped back on one play and made a read to his left seeing Chris Moore. Stingley darted from coverage towards Moore causing Mills to move off Moore and head to Nico Collins for a score. Yes, the defense allowed a touchdown, but Stingley did his job.

9. Rookie safety Jalen Pitre is a “starting” safety for the team according to Lovie Smith. Pitre had an interception, depending on who you ask, in practice. It is clear the Texans trust him and have put a lot on his plate. I would expect to see a lot of the rookie safety, good or bad, this season.



10. Lovie Smith praised the team’s depth at linebacker earlier in camp. I scoffed a little at the notion, but there seems to be a new linebacker making a play each day. Christian Kirksey had a nice stop in the run game today. Kevin Pierre-Louis, who played very little last year, has flashed. There’s some depth here, despite my skepticism.

11. Ka'imi Fairbairn doesn’t have a challenger in camp this year. I believed this offseason should have seen at the very least someone to challenge the kicker heading into his seventh year in the league. He’s been solid in camp so far, but there have been some misses. It is tough to judge distance, but the team clearly has faith in him with no challenger in sight.

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