FRED FAOUR

Texans make short work of inferior team, roll to ninth straight win by beating Browns

The Texans defense came to play. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Texans had every reason to lay an egg against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. They were coming off an emotional Monday Night win over Tennessee, and will face Indianapolis next week in a game that could end the AFC South race. 

From a betting perspective, the Browns were the classic "sandwich" game.

No one told the Texans, who had plenty to eat, forcing four turnovers and turning in a dominant performance on both sides of the ball, beating the Browns 29-13. 

It was not that long ago that the Texans were 0-3, there was talk of firing Bill O'Brien and the team looked uninspired. Nine wins later, they are playing like one of the best teams in the AFC.

On Sunday, the defense intercepted Baker Mayfield three times in the first half, and forced a fumble in the second to keep the Browns out of the end zone after a long pass that looked like a sure touchdown.

Offensively, the Texans ran the ball effectively again with 187 yards on 39 carries, and Deshaun Watson was efficient throwing the football. The Texans took their foot off the gas in the second half, but after racing to a 23-0 halftime lead, it was a luxury they could afford. 

There were some of the old negatives - poor clock management at the end of the first half, some big passes given up in the second half where the Texans were bailed out by a hold and the fumble, and settling for too many field goals - but they had no impact on the outcome.

The Texans have won nine in a row since that 0-3 start, which seems like a lifetime ago. Barring a colossal collapse, they will win the most games in a season of the Bill O'Brien era. They are still in the hunt for a possible first-round bye, and are playing their best football at the right time. They got some help from Jacksonville, too, which upset Indianapolis 6-0. At 9-3, the Texans now lead the AFC South by three games.

How good was Sunday's win?

Considering the situation, this might have been the Texans most impressive of the season. The Browns had won two in a row, and Mayfield had been on a tear since Hue Jackson was fired. But the Texans took the soul out of the Browns early.

There are some injury concerns moving forward - Jonathan Joseph went out early and the offensive line took some more hits - but the Texans are looking solid as the postseason looms. During this streak, they have won close games, won when one side of the ball was struggling, and beat some teams (Dallas, Denver) where the wins look better and better every week.

And on Sunday, when they could have mailed it in, they didn't. They pounded an inferior team in impressive fashion, something they struggled with earlier in the season, losing to the Giants and getting lucky to beat the Bills.

So much for that sandwich. The Texans had themselves a turnover feast on Sunday, and it came at just the right time.

Cheerleaders are supposed to be hot. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

In this age of safe spaces and emotional support animals I understand the plight of the modern day cheerleader and power dancer. They shouldn't have to hear hurtful words.

Longtime Texans cheerleader director Alto Gary was accused of calling her cheerleaders crack whores and porn stars when they wore too much makeup. This week a MIlwaukee Bucks cheerleader said she was locked in a dark closet and had to endure jiggle tests and fat grabbing.

These methods are probably unnecessary. Are they lawsuit worthy? That's for smarter people to decide. The Bucks did settle a suit for $250,000 because they underpaid their cheerleaders. That's something I can get behind. But that's arguable as well.

Exactly what are we looking for in our cheerleaders as 2018 comes to a close?

There are two main priorities in the cheer game: looks and dance-ability. We've gotten away from the gymnastics aspect. In high school competition it's still important but in the pro game we've gone to more synchronized dancing.

What we haven't gotten away from is how important it is to look good. As politically incorrect as that might be, it isn't going away anytime soon, maybe ever. We want our cheerleaders to look good. Sorry. Call me a neanderthal. Political correctness will never overcome a guy's pentiant to look at pretty girls. It just won't.

What we have here is the issue of how the cheerleaders are being treated and paid. Are the hurtful words necessary? No. But guess what. Stuff happens when livelihoods are on the line. You know what coaches call their players when they gain weight and get out of shape? You don't want to know. It's ugly. Body shaming? You bet. Happens every day in locker rooms all across the country at every level.

Some coaches are just mean and will pick at any inadequacy. Others use it as a motivational tactic. Who wants to be shamed publicly? No one but if I stay in shape I won't catch the coach's wrath so I stay in shape.

Let me make this perfectly clear though. I am anti-eating disorder. I like a little meat on the bones. That cheerleaders have to be Victoria Secret models is a thing of the past. Nothing wrong with some muffin tops in my book. I would be a great cheerleader director. After practice we'd order a few pizzas.

I'd be the only one who would do that but OK. Maybe I would change the game. Probably not but maybe.

As far as the inferior pay goes, I'm not sure that will change anytime soon. I don't want to be mean but let's be real. Cheerleaders are part of the game. They are not the game. Unless you are extremely perverted (and there are much better ways to get your perv on) the only people that are there just for the cheerleaders are their family and boyfriends/husbands.

The players are the product and they're expensive. Periphery attractions have to be affordable or the business plan doesn't work. Cheerleaders can and should make more than the miserly owners have been paying them but they're never going to get rich cheering. They're just not.

My cousin was a Honey Bear back in the day. She didn't make squat but she loved what she did and no one can ever take that away from her. There's a certain pride that goes along with it, not only for her but for the whole family. My cousin was hot enough to be a Bear's cheerleader. None of my friends had family that hot. I lauded that over them.

Let's not relent to political correctness on this. We just can't. Should directors lock cheerleaders in closets? Grab their fat? Wrap them in cellophane? Probably not. Should they at least make minimum wage and maybe more? Sure.

But we can't lower our hotness standards. They have to be smokin' hot and dance well.

I want my mechanic to know engines and fix my problem. I want my doctor to diagnose and cure my ills. I want my pilot to take off and land without incident and I want my cheerleaders and/or power dancers to be hot and dance well. That's the job. Period.

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