THE PALLILOG

Texans go deep with Hopkins, and it pays off

Texans go deep with Hopkins, and it pays off
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DeAndre Hopkins

Off Sunday's humiliation in Baltimore beating the Colts was a quality bounce back for the Texans Thursday night. Neither team looked like a Super Bowl threat, and the prospect of the Texans winning another AFC South championship excites very few as a stand alone achievement. Still, if the Texans are to ever notably break through in the playoffs, being in the playoffs is a prerequisite. The Texans are now probable to secure another one of those cute little AFC South Champion banners.

I said on the radio this week that it was lame that the Texans offensive scheme had largely reduced DeAndre Hopkins to a possession receiver. Through the first 10 games D-Hop wasn't even averaging 10 yards per reception (9.9). His low for a full season is 12.2, second lowest 13.7. 35 and 30 yard touchdown receptions vs. Indy later, the words "about time" come to mind. About time in giving their best player a chance to make catches downfield once in a while.

At 7-4, the Texans last regular season game against a good team is vs. the Patriots a week from Sunday. Even if they do their usual and lose to the Pats, the Texans should win 10 games and for a sixth time in nine years their division. Over the last quarter of the schedule anything less than 3-1 would be something on the spectrum from disappointing to epic failure (should it cost them a playoff spot): two games with the currently 5-5 Titans, a home game vs. the 3-7 Broncos, and a road game at the 3-7 Buccaneers.

State of dismay

Except for Baylor and SMU (both 9-1!), what a crappola FBS Texas college football season is winding down.

Tom Herman's third season at Texas stands at a mediocre 6-4 heading into Saturday's game at Baylor. The Longhorns have no individually horrible losses, but TCU and Iowa State are nothing special, and they barely beat Kansas. UT's season makes a punchline of Sam Ellinger's "We're baaaaaack!" proclamation after last season's Sugar Bowl win. Mack Brown's third season in Austin produced the first of what would be 10 consecutive seasons finishing in the top 13 of the final AP poll.

Jimbo Fisher is in his second season at Texas A&M. The Aggies are a hollow 7-3 heading into Saturday's game at Georgia. The Aggies' three losses all came to excellent teams: Clemson, Alabama, and Auburn. But they weren't substantially competitive in any of those games. The Aggies seven wins have come over not bowl eligible squads, though Mississippi State could get to 6-6! If the Aggies don't pull a major upset at Georgia or next weekend at LSU, Fisher's second season is a definite disappointment. His first season in Aggieland high point was the seven overtime thrilling victory over LSU. Contrast the Aggies with the Tigers 12 months later.

Dana Holgorsen's first season at UH is a stink bomb, Mike Bloomgren's second at Rice has one win. TCU, Texas Tech, North Texas, UTSA, UTEP. Not one winning record in the bunch.

Fuss about Russ

Russell Westbrook is one of my top 10 all-time NBA favorite players to watch. That doesn't change the reality that his three point shooting is lousy and despite the Rockets' bombs away system he should basically stop shooting threes. Westbrook is literally the worst volume NBA three point shooter ever. Four of the last five seasons he has failed to crack 30 percent. 30 percent stinks! So far this season, West"brick" checks in at a sub-awful 22.7 percent. It's going to be a problem for the Rockets in trying to win at the championship level. On the plus side, Westbrook is a one man fast break who has elevated the Rockets from being one of the slowest tempo offenses to one of the fastest.

If you'd like to live in Edmond Oklahoma about 20 minutes from downtown Oklahoma City, Westbrook is selling his mansion there. Approximately 8400 square feet, it can be yours for $1,695,000! He's selling at a loss. Westbrook owns a 9000 square foot palace in the ritzy Brentwood area of Los Angeles, for which he paid a reported $19,750,000.

Big Bang coming

With the state of their payroll the Astros weren't going to spend much in free agency regardless this offseason, but it can't help that Jim Crane and his ownership partners are probably looking at a seven figure fine when Major League Baseball lowers the boom after its investigations of Astro cheating schemes, and the organization's indefensibly horrible handling of the Brandon Taubman fiasco. And it sure seems like it is when that boom is lowered, not if.

Buzzer beaters

1. If only Will Fuller wasn't so darn fragile. A healthy Fuller is a dynamic threat. 2. At this point in his contract who is more overpaid, Herman at six mil per season or Fisher at seven and a half? 3. Greatest Sports Leonards: Bronze-Dutch (the better one) Silver-Kawhi Gold-Sugar Ray

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Spencer Arrighetti makes the start for Houston. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Houston Astros (43-41, second in the AL West) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (38-46, fifth in the AL East)

Toronto; Tuesday, 7:07 p.m. EDT

PITCHING PROBABLES: Astros: Spencer Arrighetti (4-6, 5.68 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 75 strikeouts); Blue Jays: Jose Berrios (7-6, 3.38 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 76 strikeouts)

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Blue Jays -115, Astros -105; over/under is 8 1/2 runs

BOTTOM LINE: The Houston Astros will try to keep a three-game road win streak going when they take on the Toronto Blue Jays.

Toronto has gone 20-22 at home and 38-46 overall. The Blue Jays have the 10th-ranked team slugging percentage in the AL at .374.

Houston is 43-41 overall and 19-22 on the road. The Astros have the top team batting average in the AL at .264.

The matchup Tuesday is the fifth time these teams meet this season. The Astros have a 3-1 advantage in the season series.

TOP PERFORMERS: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads Toronto with 13 home runs while slugging .471. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is 16-for-38 with three home runs and four RBI over the past 10 games.

Jose Altuve has a .304 batting average to lead the Astros, and has 17 doubles and 13 home runs. Yainer Diaz is 17-for-42 with eight RBI over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: Blue Jays: 3-7, .247 batting average, 5.65 ERA, outscored by 13 runs

Astros: 9-1, .298 batting average, 3.36 ERA, outscored opponents by 30 runs

Today's Astros lineup.

Photo via: MLB.com/screenshot.

INJURIES: Blue Jays: Isiah Kiner-Falefa: day-to-day (knee), Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: day-to-day (finger), Yimi Garcia: 15-Day IL (elbow), Jordan Romano: 15-Day IL (elbow), Alek Manoah: 15-Day IL (elbow)

Astros: Jake Bloss: 15-Day IL (shoulder), Victor Caratini: 10-Day IL (hip), Justin Verlander: 15-Day IL (neck), Cristian Javier: 60-Day IL (forearm), Kyle Tucker: 10-Day IL (shin), Jose Urquidy: 60-Day IL (forearm), Oliver Ortega: 60-Day IL (elbow), Bennett Sousa: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Penn Murfee: 60-Day IL (elbow), Luis Garcia: 60-Day IL (elbow), Lance McCullers Jr.: 60-Day IL (elbow), Kendall Graveman: 60-Day IL (elbow)

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